Healthcare reform is a contentious issue and it affects every person in America and yields just about as many differing opinions.  It unquestionably affects the travel nursing industry, as we here at TRS Healthcare have seen the hospitals become overly cautious in dispensing needs due to the uncertainty of how healthcare reform will evolve between Presidencies.

This “wait and see approach” has been in full affect since the latter stages of the 2016 election and unfortunately has not altered much, even six months into the next administration.  Meanwhile, the rhetoric from both political parties keeps anyone from knowing how this chaos will eventually bear out and what impact it will have.  As it stands now, hospitals reach out at the last moment, requesting a dozen nurses who can start immediately, something notoriously difficult for travel nurses who are already forced to meet a facility’s unreasonable credentialing requirements.

Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, much was made about the increasing length of each incarnation of the bill.  Varying between 1,900 and 2,300 pages, containing somewhere around a quarter of a million words and requiring a marketing plan that included the bizarre suggestion that Congress needed to “pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”, this convoluted mess clearly demonstrates why people are frustrated about all Washington politics.  Is it necessary to make everything so complicated?  Is there a simpler way?

While these debates are beyond the scope of this article and without endorsing any political party or platform agenda, let’s peek back in history to see how things were handled more easily, in a much more simpler time.

The year is somewhere in the late 17th century and as you are beginning your new job, you are asked to sign some employment documents before you are welcomed into the fold.  Nothing new there, certainly not new to a travel nurse.  However, your new health insurance, perhaps more accurately called workers compensation, is unlike any you have seen before.  “He that shall have the Misfortune to lose a Limb in time of Engagement, shall have the Sum of Six hundred pieces of Eight, and remain aboard as long as he shall think fit.”  Welcome to the Pirate Code and your first Pirate Ship.

Unlike the films, the Pirate code was often ship specific and was designed to maintain order, incentivize the crew to perform well and set the framework for a solidly functional society on the high seas.  According to some accounts, a pirate crew would be compensated for injury thusly: 600 pieces of eight for a major limb, 100 for an eye or a finger.  That’s roughly $575 for losing an arm, 350 years ago, laid out in one sentence.  Maybe due to the daily risks of the pirate lifestyle, the Captain decided to simplify the policy.  Who can read 2,000 pages with the ship rocking like this?  Who can afford to read all night long with the price of candles so high?

Some other articles of the pirate code laid out a rudimentary democracy that Western Governments would emulate later.  Captain Bartholomew Roberts included these clauses in his ship’s code:

“Every man shall have an equal vote in affairs of moment. He shall have an equal title to the fresh provisions or strong liquors at any time seized, and shall use them at pleasure unless a scarcity makes it necessary for the common good that a retrenchment may be voted.”

“The Captain and the Quartermaster shall each receive two shares of a prize, the Master Gunner and Boatswain, one and one half shares, all other officers one and one quarter, and private gentlemen of fortune one share each.”

Healthcare legislation is a headache inducing, politically charged and passionate subject in which no one will be completely satisfied by any result that may manifest itself in modified laws.  It remains a waiting game while the political machine churns out its talking points, finger pointing and desperate attempts to diminish the validity of opposing viewpoints.  While you wait though, brush up on your pirate lingo; September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day so consider reaching out to your representatives and let them know that our buccaneer brethren of old may have been on to something with easy to read legislation that doesn’t require reformation.  A pirate’s life for me, I always say.




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