APSCUF’s endorsement of HR 676 (Medicare for All)

November 25, 2009

[Other than a slight error–APSCUF isn’t affiliated with NEA–I’m happy to see this announcement out.  Our Legislative Assembly made this endorsement in late September.  For more info, go to <www.unionsforsinglepayerHR676.org>.]

Pennsylvania and Illinois Faculty Unions Endorse HR 676

Two faculty unions affiliated with the National Education Association
(NEA) have endorsed HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced
by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Legislative Assembly of the Association
of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) voted
overwhelmingly to endorse HR 676.  ASPCUF represents 6,000 faculty members
at the fourteen public university campuses across Pennsylvania.  Seth
Kahn, Grievance Chair at West Chester University, said:  “APSCUF
recognizes the importance of single-payer healthcare for unions
everywhere.  We are pleased to offer our strong endorsement.”

In Chicago, Illinois, the Executive Board of the Roosevelt University
Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO) also voted to endorse HR 676 reports
LuAnn Swartzlander, RAFO President.  RAFO is affiliated with the Illinois
Education Association (IEA) and the NEA.    #30#

HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a
greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including
prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and
preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health,
physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision
care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable
medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments.  HR 676 would save hundreds of
billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the
private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 86 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced SB 703, a single payer bill
in the Senate.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 568 union organizations in 49 states including
134 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state
MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Email: nursenpo@aol.com


Why unions should fight for single-payer health care

August 9, 2009

This is an extension of my last post, or maybe one direction it could have gone but didn’t…

One of the main reasons, oft cited even by those who don’t really support healthcare reform, that we need heathcare reform (even though some of those who say it don’t really mean it) is skyrocketing costs.  We also need it, according to some, because small businesses can’t afford the costs of insuring their employees and feel like they shouldn’t have to.

The union member and officer in me bucks against the claim that employers shouldn’t have to insure employees.  Health insurance was a hard-won battle, and in an era where corporations are earning (and often frittering way, but that’s their fault) huge profits, it’s not workers’ faults if those corporations choose not to invest in their own employees.  I realize it’s different for small businesses.

At my own job, when I got hired, our health benefits package was one of the big selling points (not to me–I’d been uninsured for so long that to have *any* insurance seemed like a luxury).  Our faculty didn’t pay for our insurance at all.  Combined with our (at the time relatively high) salaries, the package our system offered was really hard to turn down.  The 2007–11 contract changed all that; our salaries are coming closer into line with peer systems, and for the first time, we had to start paying a portion of our health insurance premiums.  It was a bummer, but we were convinced that it was high time we shared some of the burden of our own expenses.  And we traded that for some other concessions during negotiations, which I won’t get into here because if you’d be interested in them, you already know what they were :).

But in retrospect, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that the labor movement needs to be heavily involved in the fight for single-payer healthcare.  And for several reasons–

1.  Labor cares more about workers than management does, and certainly more than the healthcare industry does.  If anybody is going to conduct this fight out of proper motivation, it’s us.

2.  Labor has a history of winning healthcare fights.

3.  Management uses healthcare as a bargaining chip with which to push labor for concessions.  Give up salary, for example, or we can’t afford your insurance any more.  In academic contexts, we might here something like “If you don’t accept furloughs, we can’t insure you.”  Or, “If you insist on keeping your insurance benefits as they are, we can’t afford to hire more faculty eligible for those benefits.”  Nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve been involved, no matter how distantly, with these kinds of conversations.

4.  Linking labor with other progressive movements/organizations will reinvigorate labor.  I realize not all labor activists/organizers are progressive, but I’m convinced one of the reasons the labor movement has lost momentum over the last few decades is that its focus has become almost entirely on contracts and negotiations.  When those don’t go well (even when they do), it’s hard to keep memberships interested and, more importantly, mobilized.

On that happy note…

[ADDED later:  If you belong to a union that hasn’t yet signed onto this effort, check out <http://unionsforsinglepayerhr676.org/union_endorsers>.

Ranting about health care

August 2, 2009

I’ve made comments like this several times on my Facebook pages, but I need to put it here too…

Let me make this simple.  Anybody who opposes universal heath care (not universal health insurance, which doesn’t solve anything) has no moral ground from which to argue.  You (if you’re one of those people) quite simply don’t care whether people live or die.  Especially if you’re a “pro-life” conservative, the logic of your own position dictates that you should support open access health care for all.  If you’re so willing to go to the mat for fetuses, why not everybody else?

All the bullshit about “socializing” medicine is just that–bullshit.  And those of you who throw that word around know it.  “Government-run” does not equal “socialist.”  If it did, that would mean the entire defense industry (of which you’re so proud) is “socialist” since all its money comes from taxpayers via government contract.  If you’re really committed to privatization, you can start making that argument when you fully, unquestioningly support putting an end to corporate welfare.  In the meantime, you’re a hypocrite if you try to have this both ways.

The line about “healthcare rationing” is a hoax too.  Right now, people who have insurance, unless it’s really good insurance (and even then sometimes), have their care rationed.  The difference is that it’s rationed by organizations (health insurance companies) that have a priority other than your health.  Driven by profit margins first, it’s in their interests to make sure: (1) people stay sick so we need more health care for them to ration; and (2) people don’t get expensive treatments that cut into their profits.  Neither of those is good for any of us, unless you happen to be an owner of an insurance company.

This isn’t complicated, folks.  The ONLY people out there who have a serious interest in preventing universal healthcare are those who profit, at the expense of all the rest of us, on sickness.  Anybody who buys into the Republican and Bluedog Democrat hype about how universal healthcare would harm us just isn’t paying attention.  And before you (those who disagree with me) get your dander up, I know perfectly well that there are problems with government run systems elsewhere.  I also know that there are worse problems with the private system now.  Hands down, I’ll take a healthcare system that isn’t grounded in denial of coverage and the propagation of illness–that is, a system that’s designed to do exactly the opposite of what it says–over the current system any day.

And for the record, yes, this means I do NOT support the current legislation, even in its drafty forms, circulating in either house of Congress.  They’re both filled with giveaways to the criminals who have gotten us into this mess in the first place.

Single-payer, universal healthcare, without any qualification, is the only way to go.  It really is that simple.