Rush Limbaugh, I'm sure, meant to have his declaration that the U.S. health care system was "just dandy," convey that health care reform was unnecessary. What he didn't realize, though, is that the health care system in Hawaii is among the most "liberal" in the country and goes beyond what the Senate version of health care reform does.
1. Hawaii is a shining example of progressive health care reform. In fact, Hawaii is so forward-thinking that the Senate bill excludes Hawaii from some of its provisions, because Hawaii's requirements on employers go farther than the federal legislation.
* Since 1974, Hawaii has required all employers to provide quality health care benefits to any employee who works 20 hours a week or more. Because of Hawaii's increased coverage, reports the New York Times, "hospital and insurance executives in Hawaii say they have been able to innovate efficiencies. For instance, the state's top three medical providers are adopting electronic medical records -- years ahead of most mainland counterparts."
* One reporter noted "the medical system in Hawaii is as close to socialized medicine as there is in the United States, and, much of the Democrats reform bill is based in the Hawaii system."
2. Limbaugh stayed at Queen's Medical Center, where nursing staff are represented by the Hawaii Nurses' Association (read: a labor union). The nurses at Queen's are protected by their contract, which adheres to the ANA's safe-staffing principles guaranteeing appropriate staffing levels for any patient care unit.
In fact, Hawaii has one of the greatest percentages of organized workers of any state and also had the highest percentage of organized RNs. All private-sector acute care hospital RNs are organized, with just two known exceptions. We're guessing this might have something to do with why Limbaugh found the Hawaii hospital staff's work so "confidence-inspiring."
When Limbaugh was released from Queen's Medical Center, he cheerily noted, "The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer."