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Nurses Take a Stand at the Supreme Court to Defend Patients

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PHOTO: Nurses from across the country are speaking out for their patients as the United States Supreme Court hears the King v. Burwell case on March 4. Photo credit: Tpsdave/Pixabay
PHOTO: Nurses from across the country are speaking out for their patients as the United States Supreme Court hears the King v. Burwell case on March 4. Photo credit: Tpsdave/Pixabay
WASHINGTON – Nurses from across the country are speaking out for their patients as the U.S. Supreme Court hears the King v. Burwell case on Wednesday.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) say the case threatens the health and financial security of millions of working Americans by stripping away premium tax credits.

The nurses stress there's too much at stake to let the gains that have been made in families' access to affordable care slip away.

Michelle Boyle, a nurse from Pittsburgh, joined in an amicus brief in the case and wants to be sure others don't have to go through what she has – losing a mother-in-law, who was unable to afford her health care coverage.

"She had chronic conditions that were treatable and they could have treated those conditions and had it under control, but she died of them instead,” Boyle says. “Because she couldn't get affordable health care. And she was only 58 years old."

The health care of 8 million working Americans from 36 states hangs in balance as the Supreme Court weighs the arguments in this case.

ACA supporters say based solely on the state in which they live, working families could lose tax credits that make care affordable and this would drive up the cost of premiums for everyone by 35 percent or more.

Melanie Arciaga, a medical surgical nurse from Seattle, explains that Washington patients would not be affected, but the ruling would impact trauma and burn patients from Alaska, Idaho and Montana that her hospital serves.

"Well, that's upsetting and it saddens me a lot,” she states. “Why would they take that away? It should be a right for everybody to have access to health care and to have the same treatment as the next person next to you."

This latest challenge comes before the court at a time when the health care law is working for more Americans than ever before.

Sue Morano, a nurse from Lorain, Ohio, explains that the uninsured rate is at an all-time low, and 10 million people now have health insurance who did not have it before.

She says the ACA is both saving money and improving the quality of care.

"It means that certain diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems like asthma, are being treated in the primary care setting rather than in our emergency room,” she stresses. “The health care law has helped so many people in ways they don't even realize. With the focus on preventative care, it's quite life saving and it means that my patients are living healthier lives.

“I feel that we simply just cannot go back to a time when people have to choose between health care and putting food on the table, making sure that their family has a roof over their head."

The Supreme Court is expected to rule in this case sometime before June.