California nurses’ group expresses concern about health care reform proposals

California nurses’ group expresses concern about health care reform proposals


California Nurses for Ethical Standards has issued a statement on proposals for health care reform, stressing the need for conscience protections for institutional and individual health care providers and insurers, the exclusion of abortion from federal funding and non-discrimination in health care eligibility.

The August 20 statement from California Nurses for Ethical Standards (CNES) voiced concern about some provisions that will “heavily” affect their profession.

“Foremost we believe that increased government involvement will do nothing to correct the difficulties currently present in our health care system, and would prove disastrous,” the statement said.

CNES insisted that all health care providers, individual and institutional, as well as insurers must be free to refuse to “participate in, refer for or pay for” medical procedures and practices that violate their consciences.

“Provisions to explicitly protect conscience rights, without exception, must be included in any plan for health care reform,” CNES said.

The organization called for the strict prohibition of any process which tries to determine eligibility for medical care by assessing and assigning a value to human life at any age, medical state, stage of illness, or an individual’s ability to contribute to society.

Another problem highlighted by CNES is that any language that permits government “allocation of resources” risks “selective discrimination.” In light of this, the group said health care services must not be delivered by means of government allocations.

CNES also said that any reform proposals must “explicitly exclude” use of federal dollars for funding abortion services.

Spokeswoman Kristen Chesnut, RN, told CNA the group has about 100 members.

Explaining the need for conscience protections, she said a “foundational concept” of CNES is “a respect for the sanctity of life, at all stages.”

“If all health care providers are required to provide any and all services mandated by law, providers with conscientious objections will either be forced out of practice or risk termination by his or her employer,” she added. “Hospitals which do not elect to provide services they deem outside of their ethical bounds will be forced to close.”

The organization is also concerned about the cost of the reform effort.

“We believe that the proposed legislation, with the costs projected at this time, is fiscally irresponsible, in light of the debt already incurred in ‘bail-outs’ and the President’s economic stimulus plan,” Chesnut said.

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