By Andy Coates, MD Steward in the Public Employees Federation (PEF), AFL-CIO, A statewide New York union affiliated with AFT and SEIU
In an attempt to find out what union members think about the health care crisis and its solution, the AFL-CIO recently asked union members and supporters to complete a health care survey.
The problem with the survey is that it does not present the full range of opinions union members have, and nowhere in the survey is single payer, or Medicare for All, or HR 676 even mentioned as an option.
Question #21 in the survey offers only variations on keeping for-profit insurance companies in the center of health care. There is no choice to go to a single payer, publicly funded system that covers all medically necessary care as in HR 676.
Everyone knows that single payer is supported by many within labor. Over 500 union organizations, including 39 state AFL-CIO’s and 126 Central Labor Councils, have endorsed HR 676 which is co-sponsored by 76 members in the House of Representatives. Recently, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a friend of labor, introduced SB 703, a single payer bill, in the Senate.
Since a large section of unions and union members supports a single payer solution to the health care crisis, it is unfair to construct a survey that completely ignores opinions from single payer advocates.
The AFL-CIO has a crucial role to play in the health care debate now unfolding. It is important that those who speak for labor in this debate are able to reflect the vital and growing single payer sentiment within our union movement.
We encourage you to write President Sweeney, firstname.lastname@example.org, and urge him to include the single payer choice in the survey seeking the views of union members on health care. You could also fax President Sweeney at: (202) 508-6946.