Medicare for All Bill
Unions Can Lead the Struggle for Single-Payer Health Care
By Kay Tillow
Despite passage of the 2010 health care reform bill, employers continue to push for cuts in benefits and to shift costs to workers in higher monthly payments, co-pays, and deductibles.
Wage increases are always trumped by this costly health care monster. Some employers, in anticipation of the $2,000 annual fine for not offering health insurance, are threatening to drop coverage and instead pay the cheaper fine.
Many companies are dropping benefits for spouses, retirees, and part-timers. Current law does not stop them. Multiemployer plans are disadvantaged by the preferable treatment available to the plans of non-union employers. The 2018 excise tax will cap the ability to bargain better health benefits. Insurance companies continue to decide what doctors and hospitals workers can use.
Unions are playing in a ball park where the odds are stacked against them, a field dominated by private health insurance companies. Unions need a new arena where they can win the battle, improve coverage, and secure it once and for all.
Unions Have a Big Stake in Winning Single-Payer
The Whole Country Wins with Single Payer
Union members are not the only ones in jeopardy now. Our states and cities are strapped by the health insurance burden that siphons public funds from education, jobs, and all the beneficial programs we need.
There’s nothing inevitable about the costly health insurance system we have in the U.S. where private insurance companies dictate what physicians workers can see and what claims to deny.
In fact, the U. S. is the only major industrialized nation that doesn’t have some type of national, universal health care.
Did You Know?
The “Expanded & Improved Medicare for all Act,” H.R. 676
Congressman John Conyers Jr.(D-Mich.) has introduced H.R. 676 into every Congress since 2003.
This single-payer health care program proposes an effective mechanism for controlling skyrocketing health costs while covering all and improving health care for everyone.
H.R. 676 would cover every person in the U.S. for all necessary medical care including dental, prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, oral surgery, periodontics, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, durable medical equipment, palliative, chiropractic and long-term care.
H.R. 676 ends deductibles and co-payments removing financial barriers to care.
In country after country, labor took the lead in championing universal health insurance. Labor’s leadership is essential to pass HR 676.
Some argue that labor shouldn’t advocate national health insurance because universal coverage would take away a major incentive for joining unions.
But countries with universal health insurance have a far higher proportion of workers in unions than the U.S. Unions can gain better wages, pensions, and working conditions if they aren’t locked into bargaining to retain essential health care benefits.
Some union members fear they would lose the level of benefits they’ve won if we had national health insurance. In fact, under the current system labor’s health benefits are threatened with every contract negotiation. With H.R. 676, all medically necessary care is covered with dental, drugs, long term care—many provisions that most workers don’t have now. Working people would have improved coverage and pay less.
That’s why it’s important for unions to take a stand for the best bill, H.R. 676, which would improve care for everyone.
There is an Alternative
Unions today face bitter opposition from attacks on workers’ rights to organize and bargain. Unions can take the offense by leading the fight for H.R. 676. By winning secure health care for everyone, unions will restore hope and confidence in the labor movement and open the door for further gains.
Over 600 union organizations, including 44 state AFL-CIOs, 147 CLCs, and the national AFL-CIO have come out in favor of Rep. John Conyers’ Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, H.R. 676. That list and a sample resolution are available on the website http://unionsforsinglepayer.org
Brochures with this message are available at cost upon request. If your union would like to have a speaker on single payer or additional information, please contact:
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676