by Clyde Weiss | May 03, 2011
On May 4, more than 300 AFSCME-represented nurses will convene in Washington, DC, during National Nurses Week to learn, network and lobby members of Congress to prevent funding cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.
The 13th AFSCME-United Nurses of America (UNA) National Nurses Congress runs from Wednesday, May 4, through Saturday, May 7, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
The nurses will attend a series of workshops, hear from keynote speakers, and stand in solidarity with public service workers throughout the country who are fighting to protect collective bargaining rights.
Opening the session on Thursday is Kathy J. Sackman, RN, an AFSCME International vice president. Sackman recently retired as president of United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP).
Also on Thursday, attendees will head to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers to preserve critical Medicare and Medicaid funding. “Nurses are on the front line of providing care,” says AFSCME International Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “They know better than anyone that cuts to Medicare or Medicaid will mean inadequate health insurance or no health insurance for many Americans. That means they won’t get the care they need when they need it.”
The House Republican budget, if passed, would no longer guarantee Medicare benefits and affordable premiums for those currently under age 55. Instead, more than 20 million Americans would be given underfunded vouchers to shop for coverage from private insurance companies.
The bill also cuts $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, which provides health care to 60 million Americans, half of them children. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that under this House budget plan, federal spending for Medicaid would be 35 percent lower than current projected federal spending by 2022. These cuts would increase costs for states and force them to devote more state resources to health care. In most cases, states also will be forced to reduce services such as nursing home care and other long term services for seniors and people with disabilities.