What we're talking about

Breaking news, legislative updates and the facts.

At the Capitol: Nurses Are Watching

This is a featured guest post by Ashley E. Forsberg, a registered nurse from Delta Township and Michigan Nurses Association Member. 

Ashley E. Forsberg, RN, has fought for Medicaid expansion on behalf of her patients as part of the Michigan Nurses Association.

Ashley E. Forsberg, RN, has fought for Medicaid expansion on behalf of her patients as part of the Michigan Nurses Association.

I’ve been sitting in the Senate gallery with other nurses, anxiously waiting for our legislators to return from a caucus to vote on Medicaid expansion – HB 4714, a bill that will provide health care coverage to 470,000 Michigan residents. It seems pretty simple.

Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced us, members of the Michigan Nurses Association, from the floor as legislators applauded the “red shirts” in the gallery. She’s one of the legislators who understands the issues of nurses and working people.

But I question if most of our elected officials actually are in touch with the citizens of this great state or at least the citizens I see on a daily basis in my hospital for care.  The passage of Medicaid expansion means that some of my patients will be able to afford their diabetic medications and monthly foot care. Which then means my patient saves their limbs from amputation, which ultimately extends and improves their quality of life. To my hospital it means they actually receive compensation for the care I help to provide, rather than writing off the care provided as unpaid and further depressing our state and city’s economy.

I know that we ALL as middle class Americans and citizens of this state have only seen our burdens and expenses increase while our paychecks have remained static.   This portion of the Affordable Care Act implementation will benefit 470,000 people who otherwise couldn’t afford insurance.  And the federal government will pay for it.

I am frustrated that some of our leaders just don’t get it!  I have been in the gallery all day … waiting.  Watching the Republican Senators call for caucus after caucus trying to sway their members on how to vote on such an important bill that means simply … HOPE.  Hope for a successful new beginning of healthcare.  Hope for affordable insurance … for everyone, especially people who work hard day after day and simply don’t make enough money.

An alternative plan, SB 422 by Sen. Caswell was voted down earlier in what seemed a surprise after two hours of caucus. Then the Republican Senators went into caucus again … for another two hours.  This time again they had an undesired outcome: HB 4714 went down, one vote short of passing. Sen. Colbeck, who sponsored another bad alternative, refused to vote – thereby preventing Lt. Gov. Calley from casting the tie-breaking “yes” vote. Now they are in recess again.

I’m sorry, but didn’t you have enough time off fishing to make the BEST decision for MI now???!!!  The citizens of this state need this…. most can’t afford even a fishing license least of all insurance that you, our legislators, have!

Hopefully by the end of the night, the Senate will have found a way to do the right thing for their constituents. Although it’s been frustrating to watch this whole process – from June, when the House voted, to now – it only makes it more clear to me that everyone needs to be engaged in our government.  We have to hold these leaders accountable – they work for us!

We have to keep an eye on our legislators, educate them and make sure they KNOW we’re watching – just as the “red shirts” were today.

Get involved with the Michigan AFL-CIO

Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and bring economic justice to the workplace - and you can too.