Every day, registered nurses witness firsthand the need to elect Sen. Bernie Sanders for president.
We see patients who cannot afford treatments, medications and therapies even if they have insurance because of the extremely high co-payments and deductibles.
We know our health care system is broken and that Sanders is the one who can fix it. That’s why I and other members of National Nurses United, who are gathering Wednesday in Sacramento, support Sanders, who held a rally in Sacramento on Monday.
He knows the Affordable Care Act doesn’t go nearly far enough in providing coverage. This is particularly acute in Sacramento County, where approximately 17 percent remain uninsured, and where our asthma, diabetes and cancer rates are above the state average.
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Not only are we sick, we’re also financially stressed. Last year, a study by United Ways of California found that a third of California’s households struggle to meet basic needs. For many patients, that means having to make the painful decision of paying their mortgage or for their medications. That’s not a choice anyone, particularly someone who is sick, should be forced to make.
As a registered nurse who cares for extremely ill babies, I never give up on my patients. And I will never give up fighting for a system that guarantees health care for all, not based on ability to pay. Sanders shares our values with the same dedication and commitment to enact an improved and expanded Medicare for all system, as exists in every other developed nation.
Californians also experience the public health threat posed by the climate crisis. A 2015 report by the state Department of Public Health and the University of California, Davis, found that all of us are at risk from extreme heat and that four in 10 Sacramento County adults have chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure that make them more susceptible to climate change.
Sanders understands the correlation between the climate crisis and our health, and is proposing the most comprehensive platform on climate change, including a ban on fracking, which puts communities across our state at risk.
Like many in our region, I have children who left college with more than $50,000 in debt. Sanders insists that people should not be punished for getting an education, and proposes free tuition at our public colleges and universities, paying for it with a tax on Wall Street speculation. He also emphasizes the need for jobs and for reversing the inequality that affects so many.
I’ve had the honor to campaign for Sanders across the country. In Ohio, I talked to patients unable to get the care they need. In Alabama, I spoke with African Americans who told of a young man unjustly shot by police in front of his home and family members with prison sentences for marijuana possession.
We need a president who fights for all of us. My patients, my family and my community depend on it.
Cathy Kennedy is a registered nurse who lives in Carmichael and a member of National Nurses United. She can be contacted at NNUExecOffice@NationalNursesUnited.org.