Universal Health Care=Jobs

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.

One thought on “Universal Health Care=Jobs

  1. I happen to be a member of a family which operates a temp nursing registry. The business is dying as we aren’t getting enough calls to keep staff, which makes us less likely to be able to accept calls when they come in. I doubt that we are going to be getting any relief from Obama, since one has to be a huge corporation just to get his ear. So I expect that my family members whose livelihood depends upon our business generating income will just have to do like many of us are about to discover: we are on our own.

    It will soon be up to each of us to fend our way in the world no matter what poor excuse for “reform” Obama manages to produce in the face of the hurricane winds opposing real change. Billions more in profit for mega corporations is much more important than making things any better for the people. We don’t have millions to throw about attracting the legislative sharks who make quasi-monopolies not only lucrative, but also save them from real competition as they squeeze the public dry. The only logical outcome from this is that the entire system of health care will collapse before someone decides that there isn’t enough capital left to allow the continuance of quasi-monopolism. We will have been economically depleted. The people will lose their health care along with every other thing that capitalism has provided at great cost. We will be looking up to the Third World as a role model and a status to aspire toward achieving thanks to the greed of a few and the treachery of our elected representatives.

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