IOWA CITY – Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2nd District) and three SEIU Local 199 Registered Nurse members from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) used the close of National Nurses Week to tout the benefits for hospitals and patients under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, whose fate is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Renae Council, an SEIU member and a UIHC Emergency Room nurse said she decided to take time off from her job to work with her union to get information out about the ACA, in part, because of her own lack of knowledge about what the Act contained. “It’s amazing how much misinformation is out there,” she said. “It’s been a great experience and I have learned a lot.”
Council added, “The ACA has already led to good things happening right here in Iowa thanks to lawmakers like Congressman Loebsack. For instance, 42,015 Iowans on Medicare saved an average of $616 on prescription drugs, for a total savings of $25,876,475 and 18,012 more Iowans under the age of 26 have health insurance because of the law.”[i]
Ann Byrne, a long-time nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit said she and the other nurses received training before heading out to speak about the law to other health care professionals. “For a few weeks now we have taken that training and have been meeting with our co-workers in break rooms throughout the hospital. We have held presentations too. Frankly, it’s incredible the thirst for knowledge among health care professionals about a law that is so important to us and our patients. Now they know things like since 2010 Iowa has received $25.4 million to create new health centers in medically underserved areas. That kind of thing wouldn’t happen except for the ACA.[ii]”
“Patients will be better served with this law too,” said Pauline Taylor, an SEIU member and a nurse in the operating room. “Like right here at my hospital, the administration announced recently they were forming a Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) with Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids. They are taking advantage of the fact that the law creates incentives for providers that form these networks that encourage them to meet certain quality standards through a focus on prevention and management of chronic diseases.[iii] Imagine lower healthcare costs and healthier Americans. Maybe those incentives can keep UIHC from having to make unpleasant staffing decisions next year that might have the opposite effect,” Taylor said.
“I couldn’t agree with these great nurses more,” said Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa’s Executive Director. “Progress Iowa, like SEIU, thinks that no matter what happens at the Supreme Court, groups like ours will push to ensure that either the ACA or something like remains in place and gets improved upon. It is crystal clear that the ACA will simultaneously drive down costs and improve patient outcomes.
With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, and nearly 6,000 in Iowa, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers–not just corporations and CEOs–benefit from today’s global economy.