I should be getting to work but this whole health care debate is too fascinating to miss. I can’t speak for the fine points of economics or law, but I work in the field.
“Please be patient, we’re short staffed tonight.” I don’t know how many times I had to offer up this dismal excuse to patients and relatives when I worked in nursing homes. Sometimes it was my responsibility to call aides at home, on their night off, to try to persuade them to come to work an extra shift. I was not especially successful at that.
Every nursing home, whether good or bad, stretched their staff to the max. There was no leeway for call-ins or a more acute population. One of the better ones spent the extra money to bring in temps, but that had its own headaches. The regular staff resented having to take time to orient people who were making more money than they were, and I had to take extra time to report on each patient to an aide I might see once, and to monitor how everyone was doing.
Health care is very labor-intensive. That is a problem when the goal is to make a profit. The incentive is to hire the minimum number of workers necessary to keep the state from shutting the place down, or patients and families from suing. Burn-out, staff turnover, sub-standard care are the norm. Skilled nurses are overworked, and are forced to use too much of their time filing out paperwork.
It’s common for those who deliver the care to be uninsured themselves. This is a disgrace.
But there is a bright side to this. Our economy needs to get people to work. There’s no need to use government money to invent jobs in health care, they are already there. Working people can buy things and pay taxes. Insurance for low-wage workers is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing. It will help families to have health care security, it will relieve the strain on our emergency rooms.
All this talk about ‘non-productive’ members of society is out of touch with reality. People with disabilities have families and paid caretakers–relationships that are personal and financial. Grandparents are often the glue that holds a family together.
In fact, it is our present system that has rationed health care according to profitability and political clout. It’s time for the United States to join other developed nations and provide basic health care to all its citizens.