Labor Council Warns Congress on Benefits Tax

The resolution below was passed by unanimous vote at the regular meeting of Delegates to the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council in San Jose, California 2/22/10.

"We support the Social Insurance Model for Health Care Reform as articulated in Resolution 34 at the recent AFL-CIO Convention and bring attention especially to its final seven paragraphs."

"We feel additionally, that members of Congress who would touch our hard-won, collectively negotiated health care benefits with new taxation, will burn their fingers."

The last seven paragraphs of resolution 34, adopted at the September AFL-CIO Convention are below. The resolution was titled THE SOCIAL INSURANCE MODEL FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

"One concrete plan that meets the test of comprehensive, universal health coverage would build on our nation's successful universal health coverage plan for seniors: Medicare.

In its 40-year history, Medicare has delivered substantial advances for the health care of older Americans and people with disabilities. Medicare has guaranteed coverage, made health care more affordable, included a form of shared financial responsibility, significantly reduced administrative costs compared with those of private plans and has been the largely unheralded financer of America's medical science advances. Medicare also has been a leader in advancing quality care and improvements in health care service delivery in the united States.

Such an approach would require updating and expanding Medicare benefits to fit the working population and children, as well as negotiating prices with physicians and providers that families—and the country—can afford. It would encourage innovation in health care services and medical technology. Employers' responsibility for health care financing would be broadly and equitably shared, substantially reducing burdens on all businesses and reducing disadvantages currently faced in the global marketplace. In building on Medicare to move toward a universal program, we can find a practical, achievable and affordable solution to our country's health care crisis.

The experience of Medicare (and of nearly every other industrialized country) shows the most cost-effective and equitable way to provide quality health care is through a single-payer system. Our nation should provide a single high standard of comprehensive care for all.

We reiterate our longstanding call for congressional leaders to unite behind such a plan. There have been a number of single-payer bills introduced in this Congress and previous Congresses, including H.R. 676 introduced by Rep. Conyers and bills introduced by Sen. Kennedy and Reps. Stark and Dingell. The single- payer approach is one the AFL-CIO supports and that merits dedicated congressional support and enactment.

Whatever the outcome of the current debate over health care reform in the 111th Congress, the task of establishing health care as a human right, not a privilege, will still lay before us. We continue to believe the social insurance model should be our goal, and we will continue to fight for reforms that take us in that direction."