Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hell freezes over: Rush loves union nurses and decent health care

Thanks to Rick Ford at Floridians for Health Care, and Media Matters Action Network!

Over the past year of Obama's presidency, conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh has routinely mocked,distorted, and even invented various health insurance reform proposals before Congress. Given Limbaugh's blanket opposition to the new administration (recall Limbaugh's public confession, "I want [Obama] to fail"), it's hard to take Limbaugh's incessant fear-mongering seriously - or even tune in it at all. That was the case, however, until Limbaugh used his recent emergency hospital visit to show that the U.S. health care system is "working just fine."

On December 30th, Rush Limbaugh underwent an angiogram at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu after complaining of sharp chest pains. When Limbaugh exited the hospital on New Year's Day, he told reporters, "They found absolutely nothing wrong. It was a blessing. No arterial disease, no coronary disease whatsoever."

Limbaugh then turned to health care reform, citing his Honolulu experience as evidence that the health care system doesn't need fixing: "Based on what happened to me here, I don't think there is one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine, just dandy."

We're thrilled to hear that Limbaugh appreciates Hawaii's exemplary health care system. Here's why:
1. Hawaii is a shining example of progressive health care reform. In fact, Hawaii is so forward-thinking that the Senate bill excludes Hawaii from some of its provisions, because Hawaii's requirements on employers go farther than the federal legislation. (blog editor's note: the Senate exemption, however, doesn't allow for the establishment of a single payer system.)

* Since 1974, Hawaii has required all employers to provide quality health care benefits to any employee who works 20 hours a week or more. Because of Hawaii's increased coverage, reports the New York Times, "hospital and insurance executives in Hawaii say they have been able to innovate efficiencies. For instance, the state's top three medical providers are adopting electronic medical records--years ahead of most mainland counterparts."
* One reporter noted "the medical system in Hawaii is as close to socialized medicine as there is in the United States, and, much of the Democrats reform bill is based in the Hawaii system."

2. Limbaugh stayed at Queen's Medical Center, where nursing staff are represented by the Hawaii Nurses' Association (read: a labor union). The nurses at Queen's are protected by their contract, which adheres to the ANA's safe-staffing principles guaranteeing appropriate staffing levels for any patient care unit. In fact, Hawaii has one of the greatest percentages of organized workers of any state and also had the highest percentage of organized RNs. All private-sector acute care hospital RNs are organized, with just two known exceptions. We're guessing this might have something to do with why Limbaugh found the Hawaii hospital staff's work so "confidence-inspiring."

When Limbaugh was released from Queen's Medical Center, he cheerily noted, "The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer." Whether he realized it or not, Limbaugh was praising the care he received from union nurses in one of the country's most progressive health care systems. On behalf of the labor movement and health reform advocates everywhere, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT, Rush!

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