Populist Poposals Remind Why Nurses Trust Bernie Sanders to Heal America

In recent days, the Democratic Party establishment has stepped up efforts to freeze the momentum for Sen. Bernie Sanders, pressing Democratic Party office holders, who are also convention super delegates, to get in line and trying to create an impression that the contest is over.

These moves coincide with reports that the Democratic Party is again courting corporate influence in their conventions, including VIP access and treatment and premiere hotel rooms. The “menu of reward offerings,” reported The Hill, was presented at a meeting of Party officials with lobbyists from the banking, fossil fuel, and insurance industries.

What’s going on here? What the power brokers most fear is the populist, anti-corporate upsurge for Bernie Sanders and his campaign.

Sanders’ far-reaching policy proposals represent a fundamental break with politics as usual, exactly why his campaign draws such broad support.

Voters, especially young people, are responding to his call for a real path to heal a nation struggling with massive inequality, a still broken health care system, a racist criminal justice system, and a corrupted and rigged economic and political system.

And they recognize the ills are directly linked to decades of a corporate stranglehold over so much of our lives.


Nurses march in Las Vegas just prior to the Democratic debate

Nurses have also enthusiastically rallied for Sanders as an embodiment of the values of caring, compassion and community. They trust that when Sanders opposes

the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the climate-killing Keystone pipeline, and the fraudulently named “Cadillac tax” on good health plans, he will hold to those principles on inauguration day 2017 and the days afterwards.

Sanders’ platform that goes a step beyond the other candidates includes:

  • Guaranteeing healthcare to all by expanding Medicare to cover everyone, thus ending the disgrace of the 33 million still uninsured as well as removing medical bills as the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
  • Expanding Social Security benefits, not merely opposing cuts.
  • Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Allocating $1 trillion for infrastructure repair – roads, bridges, schools, rail, water and waste disposal systems, creating millions of good paying jobs.
  • Free public college tuition, the best way to end student debt.
  • A Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculation – to generate critically needed revenue for jobs, education, healthcare, and climate action.
  • Legalizing marijuana, a big step away from the disastrous war on drugs.
  • Banning federal funding for private prisons, to reduce a profit incentive for mass incarceration.
  • Abolishing the death penalty, which like minor drug arrests and mass incarceration has a disproportionate impact on African-Americans and Latinos.
  • Reinstating banking services in post offices, protecting public jobs as well as limiting the predatory practices of check cashing firms who target low income neighborhoods.
  • Protecting the right of workers by cracking down on rampant employer abuses against employees who seek to form unions.


Sanders’ platform directly attacks for the social and economic morass that plagues the nation, would significantly reduce racial, gender and class disparities, and encourage the social change that is at the heart the Sanders campaign.

It would also help redefine a vision of government as an champion for working people and the most disenfranchised, which is not only critical to making this a more just nation, but also the best counter to the rightwing agenda of defunding government and further enriching and empowering an already ruthless Wall Street and corporate oligarchy in the U.S.

To unpack the effects of such policies, start with income inequality.

Expanding Medicare to all, eliminating student debt, creating millions of good paying jobs through infrastructure repair, raising the minimum wage, increasing Social Security benefits and strengthening the role of unions, would all have an enormous impact on reversing income inequality and the concentration of wealth in the pockets of the top 1 percent.


On racial justice, increasing access to healthcare and education, creating and protecting public employment (where people of color have historically faced less discrimination than in the private sector), raising wages for low paid service jobs and expanding union rights all constitute a major assault on racial disparities.

That’s also true of Sanders’ proposals on marijuana, private prisons and federal sentencing reform, which would sharply cut incarceration rates. Further, Sanders has the most comprehensive platform for limiting police misconduct, as the Campaign Zero scorecard developed by Black Lives Matter activists attests.

Most of these proposals tackle inequities for women as well.

Retirement security is a case in point. A new report found that women (as well as African Americans and Latinos) are far less likely to have pensions and are more dependent on Social Security – at a time when politicians from both parties are pushing for cuts in Social Security and raising the retirement age. Nearly 60 percent of women, compared to 41 percent of men, have no retirement savings, thus the significance of Sanders’ Social Security proposal. Sanders plans on healthcare, education, and jobs would also erode gender disparities.

The Sanders’ policy agenda, along with his pledge to break up the banks and make Wall Street and the most wealthy pay for their fair share, and his push to unite a stronger social movement and achieve a political revolution are indeed a threat to the corporate brokers who have such influence in both major parties. All the schemes of the establishment wing to circle their wagons will not stop us now.

College for All – Vote Bernie Sanders

I don’t know whether to celebrate or cry.

Within a few months, I will have finally paid off the very last of my $20,000 worth of student loans for the private nursing school I graduated from in 1995. Yes, you read that right. I’ve been paying off these loans for 20 years and am now 52 years old.

But instead of finally focusing on building up my family’s savings and working toward my and my husband’s retirement, we are now facing taking on many thousands of dollars in student loans over the next eight years to put our two sons through college.

I make a good living as a unionized registered nurse in the San Francisco Bay Area. My husband also works. We don’t worry about where our next meal is coming from or keeping a roof over our heads, but we don’t live extravagant lifestyles. Most of our vacations consist of going to Michigan to visit my mother.

Yet when our eldest son was accepted into University of California Santa Cruz last year, the financial aid office told us that we were responsible for $28,000 out of pocket of his $33,000 annual tuition and living expenses. The only aid was a $5,000 loan to make up the difference.

Do you have $28,000 lying around? Because we don’t. So we did what so many families in our area are doing. We took out a second mortgage on our home. At a time when all the personal finance experts say we should be minimizing debt, we are burying ourselves in more of it than ever before. I don’t know how we will pay this debt. Nursing is extremely hard on your body; I now constantly worry that I am one work injury or layoff away from financial ruin. And goodbye, retirement!

Sadly, this second mortgage is not even enough to cover four years of college. We will have to figure out a way to pay some of it off soon in order to keep writing those $10,000 tuition checks. And our youngest son will be due to enter college just as soon as our eldest graduates.

Of course, we understand we are one of the fortunate parents who even own a house to further mortgage and who can financially support our sons’ college studies. Many talented, deserving young people are forgoing college altogether. The rest – millions of students from working-class families – are taking on enormous amounts of school debt that they may very well be saddled with for the rest of their lives. Currently, according to government statistics, more than 40 million Americans owe more than $1.3

trillion in student debt, at an average balance (as of 2012) of $24,803. Some students owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. Defaults are on the rise, and many expect student loan debt to be the next bubble that bursts and implodes our economy.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ve ever spoken to an exchange student from many countries in Europe, especially the Scandinavian ones, you’ll learn that college or university there is free or practically free. Students there can pursue studies they’re actually interested in since they don’t worry about how to pay for school, and they can build their adult lives much more easily after school because they’re not “servicing” their loans. These governments do not have crippled economies, but instead understand that free post-secondary education is an investment in their people and in their countries. There are so many incredibly talented people who could be contributing to our society and deserve access to a college education.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has a plan to do the same for the United States. Recognizing that a college degree is as necessary for landing a living-wage job today as a high school degree was 50 years ago, Sanders has proposed that we require Wall Street to pay its fair share of taxes so that all students can attend public colleges and universities for free. It’s called the College for All Act, and he’s holding a national student town hall Wednesday night to discuss it and to hear how such a program would dramatically improve the futures of millions of American students and their families.

I am in full support of the College for All Act. It may not happen in time for our eldest son, but I have my hopes up for our youngest.

Imagine going to college and studying what you actually want, versus what you think will make the most money once you graduate. Imagine getting to actually focus on your schoolwork, network with classmates, and attend your professors’ office hours instead of rushing from part-time job to part-time job. Imagine graduating free and clear from any debt and without the pressure to take the first job that comes along because your loan payments are going to kick in.

Once that happens for my family, for yours, and for all Americans, I can finally celebrate.

Cal student organizers are holding a viewing party of Sanders’ national student town hall at 101 Morgan Hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday night. Please visit the Facebook event page to RSVP and join us!


Providence Memorial RNs, Supporters Hold Protest

To draw attention to issues that would help ensure safe patient care, registered nurses at Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus held a protest on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

More than 30 Providence RNs came out to rally and leaflet at the protest, educating the public about staffing and equipment needs. Joining them at the rally were RNs from Las Palmas, Del Sol, Sierra and El Paso Children’s Hospital, as well as Senator Jose Rodriguez’s district chief of staff.

The nurses—who held colorful balloons to help draw attention to the issues—passed out 300 flyers and sent multiple sets of balloons into the hospital with children who had spent time talking with RNs.

“Our nurses are standing together to let the community know about how consistent staffing levels at the hospital and proper stocking of supplies are necessary to uphold top quality care for patients,” said Sandy Wakefield, RN. “Right now, these issues need to be addressed, and as patient advocates, we know it’s part of our job to speak up.”

Florida Medical Center RNs, Supporters Hold Informational Picket

Over 80 nurses and community activists came together today at Florida Medical Center (FMC) in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., calling on the hospital to maintain consistent optimum staffing levels and to provide the best possible care for the community.
“It was exhilarating to join with a large and spirited group of RNs and supporters rallying at FMC, standing up for patients, and for decent conditions for the hospital staff,” said Bob Bender, from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale Social Justice Group. “It’s important for members of the general, faith, activist, labor and professional communities to work together in solidarity for decent wages, working conditions and services—and for hospitals to implement their own desired ratios of nurses to patients.”
Gillian Edwards, RN, from nearby Palmetto General Hospital (PGH), joined the FMC nurses on the picket line.

“PGH and FMC are sister facilities. We are battling for the same issues for our nurses. FMC’s fight is our fight, their victory is our victory, and when nurses from FMC asked that we show up for their informational picket, we did because we are family,” said Edwards.
“This informational picket is about protecting the patients by calling on the hospital to maintain a working ratios of nurses to patients. This is why I am here because I care about patient safety,” said Mary Lin Montalvo, RN, of FMC.

RNs ramp up #Nurses4Bernie—on debate night and beyond!

Oakland, CA Debate Party


St. Louis, MO Debate Party

Over 200 NNU nurses “painted the town red” in Vegas on Tuesday, for the first Democratic debate. From marching down the strip, in support of Bernie, to cheering along with campaign staff in Bernie’s official watch party—NNU had a significant impact on making it known that Bernie’s values are nurses’ values


The best part? What happened in Vegas—certainly didn’t stay in Vegas. NNU nurses and supporters also represented “Nurses4Bernie” at watch parties across the country. In Silver Spring, Maryland, NNU members spoke to a crowd of around 100 about why nurses believe in Bernie. In Oakland, CA, nurses and other labor members showed support by sporting temporary Bernie Sanders tattoos during a watch party at the NNU headquarters. 

At a debate party in Echo Park, Los Angeles, RNs joined around 220 Bernie supporters and cheered along with a call for “political revolution.” 

Santa Cruz, CA Debate Party

Check out the photos below for a recap of RNs on debate night and from some of the nearly 40 other Bernie Sanders parties nurses are hosting around the country this month.


Want to get more involved? Download a toolkit to host your own house party for Bernie (featuring Bernie info, Bernie Bingo, stickers and more). Every major public poll called Bernie the debate winner, and nurses are playing a critical role in the people’s movement that he is championing. Let’s keep it going—all the way to the White House!

Sacramento, CA Debate Party

View and share more debate night photos on Facebook

When Bernie Promised to #SayHerName #SandraBland


Social activist Hannah Adair Bonner recently posted an anecdote to her blog about running into Bernie Sanders while she was having lunch with Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland. Sandra, 28,  died in police custody after being arrested in July during a traffic stop in Texas. Her tragic death ignited a public outcry on social media and became a critical focus of the #SayHerName and #BlackLivesMatter movements. 

Reed-Veal and Sanders sat and talked, and the story of their meeting is both touching, and telling of how Sanders is the real deal. 

You can read the full story on her blog.


What. A. Night. In. Vegas.

Thousands of nurses tuned into the first debate for the Democratic presidential nomination and to cheer on our endorsed candidate, Bernie Sanders.

RN supporters at Sacramento, CA debate party

Before the big event, more than 200 RNs joined 200 other supporters and marched in Vegas, sending the message to the world that Bernie is the best choice for our country.

Hundreds of nurses attended watch parties around the country to see Bernie in action.

And he did what he does best – spoke truth to power, which in this country means corporate America.

“Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress,” he said to applause.

There’s no doubt Bernie won.

RoseAnn DeMoro speaks to media in the “spin room.”

NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro attended the debate, tweeting throughout the night and talking with media afterwards.

“@BernieSanders is inspiring from the start – authentic, insightful and passionate at #DemDebate. He gets it. #DebateWithBernie,” she tweeted.

It was an exciting night, and we are going to help continue building the momentum.

Thank you so much for your energy, passion, and support. Remember, political advocacy is patient advocacy.

See More Photos of the Debate Action on Flickr

Guest commentary: It’s time for county to invest in safe patient care

Are you proud to call yourself a Contra Costa County resident? Because we are. We are registered nurses who live and work right here in the county, for Contra Costa Health Services. We believe our community, which includes our kids, our families, our neighbors, our co-workers and you, all deserve the very best medical care that our county can provide.

But that’s not happening right now.

As part of the nearly 1,000 registered nurses who work in the county’s hospital, clinics and jails, we’re here to tell you that conditions for our patients are not always safe, largely because the county refuses to properly staff our facilities with enough registered nurses.

Some units, such as the labor and delivery team that helps moms deliver new babies into the world each day, are so severely understaffed that they routinely lack the bare minimum they need to function each shift.

When nurses don’t feel that they can practice nursing safely and without endangering people, they leave. It’s that simple. Under this dynamic, the only RNs who seek work with the county are new ones, who come to get publicly funded training and experience before they move on to jobs with private hospitals and better working conditions.

And we can’t blame them. Over the past year, we have lost more than 100 nurses — including 22 RNs who have left our emergency room and 24 RNs who have left our labor and delivery room.

In our clinics, too few staff means we can’t see as many patients as we should each day, so people are having to wait weeks or months just for an appointment. When their care is delayed, their conditions often worsen and we end up treating them for serious problems that should have been taken care of long ago.

On top of all that, we are caring for more patients than ever before. With the closure of Doctors Medical Center in West Contra Costa County and people who are now eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, our facilities are jammed with thousands of new patients.

In 2014 alone, our emergency room saw 63,000 patients, and every day, in a dozen clinics across the county, Contra Costa County residents have access to everything from primary care to mental health services. Yet for all the patients we serve, including the many new patients, our hospitals and clinics have not seen a corresponding increase in staff and resources.

Our county patients and our community deserve better. We nurses have been negotiating for more than a year with county health management over this extreme RN understaffing as part of our contract talks.

The county has not heard our concerns, so we have chosen to go on strike for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, to draw attention to the dangerous conditions we see every day.

We want the county to make sure there are enough of us RNs on duty to keep you and your loved ones safe, every second of every shift.

We want to ensure taxpayer money is being invested in safe staffing and top-quality care for our patients — not in $3.7 million the county board of supervisors recently approved to hire temporary replacements for us, while we call for change.

We believe those funds should be dedicated toward correcting the serious patient care issues that we have brought to the county’s attention — because that’s what our patients deserve.

Please know that we of course would rather be at our patients’ sides than out on the sidewalk, but continuing to participate in a dysfunctional and dangerous system without speaking out and taking a stand would ultimately make us complicit as well.

We hope you will come out to support us Tuesday and Wednesday and help us improve health care for everyone in Contra Costa County.

Liz Isenberg and Sherrie Gordovez are registered nurses in Contra Costa County.

Original post: http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_28912097/guest-commentary-its-time-county-invest-safe-patient

It’s Not Just the Cadillac Tax – Volkswagen System of Profiting Off the Sick Must Go Too

To unpack the growing hubbub over the fraudulently named “Cadillac tax” let’s lift the covers off the corporate ideology of both the tax and Affordable Care Act it funds, and ask again, why do we continue to cling to a healthcare system premised on profiting off the sick?

Behind the controversy is a fundamental tenet of the ACA over how to shrink skyrocketing healthcare costs, the primary demand of corporate employers alarmed at how much more they pay out every year in health benefits – one reason President Obama talked repeatedly about health costs harming the economy.

But rather than rein in the profiteering and shameful price gouging by the big drug companies, hospitals, insurance companies and other healthcare industry giants, the main cause of ever rising costs, the ACA “wonks” opted instead to put the burden on workers, families, and patients.

The strategy – accelerating cost shifting, more “skin in the game” in their cynical lingo, also had the effect of pressuring people to skip getting the care they need, even as they were required by the law to purchase private insurance and continue to pay premiums for care they too often could not afford to use.

Nurses, more than anyone else, are left to care for the fallout. Patients and families at the epicenter of this calamity, facing bankruptcy or having to choose between going to the doctor or paying for housing, food or other basics due to un-payable medical bills, or undermining their health by delaying needed care due to cost.

Gallup poll last December found a third of Americans putting off care due to cost, the highest percentage in the history of the poll. Worse still, 22 percent said they are skipping care for serious conditions, such as irregular heartbeats and kidney stones.

As the poll notes, skipping care can lead to much higher overall costs later when conditions deteriorate and are more difficult to treat, not to mention the increased suffering that results.

That’s where the so-called Cadillac tax, a central pillar of this strategy, fits in.

The tax is a hefty 40 percent surcharge on the amount of plans above the cost of $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for family plans. Rightwing rhetoric aside, these plans are not the equivalent of workers wanting yachts, but comprehensive coverage that provides health security for their families usually earned in exchange in lieu of higher wages or other benefits.

It was always evident that employers would pass the tax on to workers, and no one above the age of three years could possibly believes those employers will generously reward their workers with higher pay in exchange.

Even before the tax is implemented in 2018, the cost shifting is underway in the form of higher co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs, or workers being pushed into bare bones plans with fewer covered services.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey reported that 13 percent of large employers have already reduced health coverage and more than half are looking into ways to do so. Since 2010, average deductibles have jumped from $900 a year to $1,300; 20 percent of workers, Kaiser found, have a deductible of $2,000 a year or more.

In addition to its ideological role, the tax has another major role. Expanding access, the major political selling point for the law, is achieved mainly through the expansion of Medicaid to the most low-income adults, but also by providing taxpayer-funded subsidies to enable the moderate-income uninsured to buy the private insurance that remain pricey even on the ACA market exchanges.

With its projected $87 billion a year in revenues, the Cadillac tax is expected to be a main funding source for the subsidies. Now that Hillary Clinton has joined Bernie Sanders, and the labor movement, among others, in endorsing repeal of the tax, the subsidies, may well be on life support.

Even more people would risk the penalties and choose not to buy insurance, adding to the 33 million who remain uninsured, and political support for the law would likely crater. No wonder those who have long touted the law, which emerged from corporate think tanks and was first planted by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, are circling the wagons and scrambling to defend the tax.

And it would bring into sharper focus the still massive failings of a broken, profit-focused system that can only be fixed by enacting a single payer system, most simply achieved by strengthening and expanding Medicare to cover all Americans.

The very reason nurses have rallied behind the candidacy of Sen. Sanders who has not only long called for repeal of the punitive Cadillac tax, but has long been the foremost legislative advocate for Medicare for all.

As Sanders says, in virtually every campaign stop, the time has come “to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee healthcare to all. To also say that we need to expand Medicare to every man, woman, and child as a single-payer national healthcare program.”

Nurses will also never stop fighting to finally transform an inhumane system, and reject the cynical machinations to protect it.

Original Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rose-ann-demoro/its-not-just-the-cadillac_b_8234210.html