AFGE Endorses HR 676, National Single Payer Bill

The National Executive Council of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has unanimously endorsed HR 676, national single payer legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan. The resolution was submitted by AFGE National Vice President Arnold R. Scott of District 6.

With 1,100 local unions, AFGE is the largest federal employee union and has 670,000 members across the country.

The text of the AFGE resolution is below:

Union Resolution in Support of HR 676, National Single Payer Legislation, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

Submitted by: NVP Scott

Whereas America’s health care system is in deep trouble. In spite of efforts to regulate the insurance industry for-profit health insurance companies are finding ways to skirt the law. The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, made it possible for some of the uninsured to find coverage, but did not resolve the problem that health insurance companies are pricing care beyond our means, and

Whereas, unions have battled to achieve the highest standards of health care for members and their families, and those gains have lifted up health benefits for all workers, even those who have no union. All of these achievements are now under constant attack as costs rise and employers seek to shift those costs to workers. Union multiemployer health plans are struggling under the unfair advantages allowed to non-union companies. Rising copays and deductibles make it more difficult for those who have insurance to get the care they need. The excise tax of 2018 will make things worse, and

Whereas, employers seek to drop health benefits for early retirees, for spouses, for part-timers. Some corporations use bankruptcy laws to shirk their contractual health care obligations. The rising cost of health insurance is blocking progress in wages and other areas, and

Whereas, insurance companies rather than patients are deciding what doctors we can see and what hospitals we can use. Drug company profits soar as, so far, congress has not used the power of bulk purchasing to bring down the prices. The US spends double per capita what other industrialized nations spend, yet ranks far below in life expectancy and infant mortality, and

Whereas we deserve better. It doesn’t have to be this way. Firefighters don’t ask us to pay before they save our families from burning houses. They just proceed to do the right thing. Health care is just as important as fire protection. Lives are at stake and all of us should have the best care that this wealthy nation has the ability to provide. Our tax dollars subsidize the research, the medical schools, and the hospitals. Unions led the way in other industrialized countries to assure universal coverage with good care through a form of single payer, and Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) has introduced HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. HR 676 will establish a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare to cover everyone. It will restore our right to choose our physicians and free us from insurance company interference in medical decisions. It will free our health care from corporate control, and

Whereas HR 676 will cover everyone for all necessary medical care including dental, prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, chiropractic, eyeglasses, hearing aids, other medical devices and long term care. HR 676 will end deductibles and copayments, and

Whereas HR 676 will save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and by using our purchasing power to rein in the drug companies. The transition to national health insurance would apply the savings from administration and profits to expanded and improved coverage for all, and

Whereas standing up for all working people and leading the effort to win healthcare for all we will affirm labor’s rightful role as a leader in the fight for social justice. Bold action by our unions can rally the nation to pass HR 676.

Therefore be it resolved, that AFGE wholeheartedly endorses Congressman Conyers’ bill HR 676, “Expanded and Improved Medicare for ALL”, a single payer health care program.

Be it further resolved that AFGE will work with other unions and community groups to build a groundswell of popular support and action for single payer universal health care and HR 676 until we make what is morally right for our nation into what is politically possible.

And that AFGE will send a copy of this resolution to congressman Conyers, to all members of the US House and Senate, to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, and to the news media.

And further, that AFGE will take other actions to mobilize our members and our community at the grassroots to encourage other members of the House to sign on as co-sponsors of HR 676 and to encourage Senators to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

Passed unanimously by the National Executive Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, November, 2015.