Montana AFL-CIO State Convention Reaffirms Endorsement of HR 676

Helena, Montana. The 53rd Annual Montana AFL-CIO State Convention reaffirmed its previous endorsement of HR 676, single payer health care legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). The Montana AFL-CIO endorsed HR 676 for the first time at its 2008 Convention.

This year’s Convention resolution resolved “that the Montana State AFL-CIO reaffirms its endorsement of and commitment to a single payer universal system of health care such as HR 676” and further resolved “that until such a time as there is a single payer universal system of health care in our nation, the Montana State AFL-CIO adamantly opposes federal and/or state taxation of union bargained, employer provided health care benefits.”

The Convention directed that Jim McGarvey, Executive Secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO, deliver copies of the resolution to the media and to the state’s congressional delegation including Montana Senator Max Baucus who spoke to the convention on May 2nd.

Baucus is a leading proponent in Congress of taxing health care benefits. Baucus is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee where 13 people were recently arrested for protesting the exclusion of supporters of single payer from two Committee Round Tables on May 5th and 12th.

Senator Baucus raised the idea of taxing health benefits at the May 12th Senate Finance Committee Round Table. In response, Gerald Shea, Assistant for Government Affairs to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, deemed Baucus’ proposal to tax health benefits a “radical change” and said, “If we’re going to do a radical change, I think that single payer is really the way to go.”

While Senator Baucus continues to say, without offering any evidence whatsoever, that single payer is “(not) going to work in this country,” two more U.S. Senators announced that a single payer system is best for America.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown told an April 17th Cleveland Heights rally that “I would love to see a single payer system,” and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a member of the Finance Committee, is quoted in The Albany Times-Union as saying: “I believe that a single-payer system would be the best way to ensure that all Americans have access to health care.”

Despite acknowledging that a single payer health care system would be the best way to solve the health care crisis, neither senator is supporting it.