by Randy Shannon
While AFSCME and SEIU have been pusuing talks with the health insurance industry to craft a joint position on healthcare reform, the insurance industry has been waging war against any proposals that would impact their growing profits. The two unions have finally given up on partnering with the health insurance industry. The insurers are in healthcare reform talks for one purpose only – protect profits. These profits are extracted by raising premiums and denying care.
The unions’ withdrawal from talks exposes the bankruptcy of the labor-managment partnership model for solving the healthcare crisis. The insurers are opposed to Medicare for All and to Obama’s attempts to adjust the current system. The insurers want the taxpayers to fund additional premiums and the government to force everyone to buy their paltry coverage. Profit is their only reason for being. The only solution for healthcare reform is the elimination of the health insurance industry.
The history of healthcare reform in the USA has been a history of defeat for reform at the hands of the insurance industry. Labor leadership can serve their members and the American people by adopting a more combative stance toward the insurance industry. It is time to shift tactics from hugs and handshakes to picket lines and demonstrations against the greed and intransigence of the healthcare insurers.
We all look forward to the day that Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George marches at the head of this trend by resigning from the Board of Directors of Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Pennsylvania and denouncing its opposition to healthcare reform. https://www.highmark.com/hmk2/about/boardofficers/index.shtml
Real healthcare reform as embodied in HR 676, the National Health Care Act, will only be possible when labor closes ranks behind a leadership that fights for healthcare for all. Single payer healthcare will not only provide full coverage for all Americans but will also create 2.6 million new jobs, $343 billion in new revenues, $100 billion in new employee compensation, and $43 billion in new tax revenues. The cost of HR 676 is only 9% of the recent stimulus package and creates the same number of new jobs. Let me repeat, Medicare for All is a stimulus that pays for itself and provides healthcare now and for future generations.