At a speech at the Yale School of Nursing on Monday, Congresswoman Lois Capps DIV ’64 accused groups such as the Tea Party movement of spreading “deliberate misinformation” about the recently passed health care bill.
Capps, who represents California’s 23rd congressional district, discussed the important role nurses can play in dispelling misinformation about the health care bill. Capps, who is a nurse and the vice chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health, explained to an audience of more than 100 nurses, nursing students and School of Nursing faculty the intricacies of the bill as it would affect nurses, women and the elderly.
“The bill is certainly not socialized medicine,” Capps said in an interview after the speech. “In fact, it’s a uniquely American design.”
She said that while the bill is being attacked as being socialist and expensive — the same complaints Medicare faced at its inception in 1965, she said — history will show that the bill will be both economically efficient and beneficial to Americans’ health.
Capps said the bill’s design, which she called “uncharted territory,” needs to be explained to the public to counter misinformation. She told the assembly that the elderly, who stand to gain the most from the health care changes, are the biggest targets for misinformation. Nurses, she said, are responsible for teaching the elderly that not only will there be no cuts to Medicare and no forced euthanasia, but also that loopholes in prescription coverage will be fixed so that Medicare recipients will no longer have to pay out of pocket.
Capps also addressed how the bill will affect women’s health issues. Under the new plan, she said, women will not be forced to pay higher insurance premiums simply because of their gender. She said that all health care plans in the future will cover maternity care; pregnancy and domestic violence will no longer be considered “pre-existing conditions”; and the overall level of access to care will be better for women through reimbursment programs.
Throughout her half-hour talk, Capps repeatedly emphasized the responsibility of nurses to drive further health care reform.
“We’re really just getting started with reform,” said Capps. “Implementation is more important than the legislative process.”
Following her speech, audience members questioned Capps about the shortcomings and confusing aspects of the legislation, such as how the bill deals with mental health services, how disparities in state policy will affect insurance reform and how the bill will affect the legal status of abortions.
The congresswoman concluded her lecture by telling the nurses that she “[couldn’t] imagine a more exciting time to be entering the [nursing] profession.”
Ramie Gold NUR ’12 agreed with Capps.
“Congresswoman Capps was very inspirational,” Gold said. “She reinforced my love of nursing and my belief in what we do.”
Gold also said she was embarrassed by how little she knew about the legislation before the speech.
Students were not the only people who did not understand the intricacies of the bill. Nancy Redeker, the associate dean of scholarly affairs for the School of Nursing, said that although she watches legislative proceedings on C-SPAN all the time, she was “completely confused” about the legislation.
Capps’ lecture is part of the School of Nursing’s Sybil Palmer Bellos NUR ’27 lecture series, which was established in 1964 for annual talks on public health issues.