I just read Victoria Hugo-Vidal’s Feb. 20 column in the Sunday paper (“The Maine Millennial: Don’t blame nurses’ pay for ills of health care,” Page D1). I find she is a good voice for everyday people.

I am disturbed by an open letter from 202 U.S. representatives suggesting that traveling nurses make too much money. Not once do they attempt to address the reason why nurses travel. Were they concerned about anti-competitive activities, they could have focused on doctors, hospital administrators and drug and equipment companies.

I know the base salary for U.S. representatives is $174,000 a year. That’s at least three times the earnings of average nurses. Have they ever considered why nurses resort to leaving their families and go to another state? It’s the low wages, overtime and staff shortages in their own hospitals. Do they realize how hard it is to work in a strange place, knowing no one?

Before Rep. Chellie Pingree and colleagues blame the everyday worker for the mistakes caused by government action or inaction, they should blame themselves. They have good health care, retirement benefits and tax deductions for living away.

If hospitals paid their own nurses what traveling nurses make, nurses wouldn’t have to leave home to make a decent living. Middle-class America is trying to survive in a world where our elected officials only cater to their own pocketbooks. The change should come not only on the backs of those who put nurses in the position that they need to travel, but also on the people who represent them.

Nancy Lund
retired nurse

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