SEIU and AFSCME Walk Out on Talks to Cut a Deal with Intransigent Health Insurers

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.

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.

Continue reading SEIU and AFSCME Walk Out on Talks to Cut a Deal with Intransigent Health Insurers

Attendees Urge Obama to Adopt Single Payer Healthcare at Dearborn Forum

Cancer Victim Surgery Denied by Insurer
Cancer Victim Surgery Denied by Insurer

Reuters News Service

Healthcare fix crucial to recovery -Michigan forum

Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:02pm EDT

* Hard-hit industrial state hosts forum

* Delegates agree on need to control costs

* Many favor single-payer plan

By Michael Strong

DEARBORN, Mich., March 12 (Reuters) – “Michigan is the poster child of why reform needs to happen,” Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm told President’s Barack Obama’s first regional healthcare forum on Thursday.

Obama has said such meetings could help Congress craft legislation to overhaul healthcare, one of his top priorities, but promised to leave the details to lawmakers.

Speaking in Dearborn, home of Ford Motor Co, Granholm said the state’s auto industry is sagging under the weight of health costs that are built into the price of every car it produces.

“We know this economic crisis rests on a number of different causes, but we also know in order to recover, healthcare has got to be a critical part of the solution,” said Granholm, whose state has an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent — the highest in the United States.

“Cars produced in Canada cost $1,000 less than cars produced in the United States simply because of healthcare costs. We’ve got to turn that around,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Unlike the United States, Canada has a single, government-financed healthcare system.


Continue reading Attendees Urge Obama to Adopt Single Payer Healthcare at Dearborn Forum

Report on White House Health Care Summit by HR 676 Supporter Oliver Fein

Oliver Fein, MD

The White House
Health Care Summit

By Oliver Fein, M.D.

Thanks to many grassroots activists and physicians who called the White House and threatened to demonstrate outside its gates, I was at the Health Care Summit at the White House on March 5 along with Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). And it was good thing. It meant that the single-payer position was recognized as one pathway to health care reform. It also meant that one of our concerns was present: namely, that any health care reform that includes the for-profit, private health insurance companies will fail to provide universal coverage, will not be able to reduce heath care costs, and will increase the number of underinsured.

It’s important to note that there were others at the summit who are known to be sympathetic to single payer, including some past and present co-sponsors of H.R. 676 and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. (More on Sanders below.)

That said, it is true that the summit was carefully choreographed. The opening plenary featured Travis Ulerick, a 24-year-old firefighter from Dublin, Ind., who had sponsored a “health care community discussion” (house party) in his fire station in December. He read off the names of six other people who had hosted similar house parties who had been invited to participate in the summit.

Continue reading Report on White House Health Care Summit by HR 676 Supporter Oliver Fein

Obama Summit on Healthcare – Marginalized Advocates Ask Why Single Payer is Ignored

Why Is Single Payer Not Front and Center?

President Obama hosted a White House summit Thursday on reforming healthcare. While President Obama said every idea must be considered, the idea of creating a single-payer national health insurance program appears to have already been rejected. We speak to Harper’s senior editor Luke Mitchell, author of the article “Sick in the Head: Why America Won’t Get the Health-Care System It Needs.”


Training Seminar on Employee Free Choice Act March 14th

efcaSharpen Your Skills for EFCA Battle

Western PA Unions Set
EFCA Training Session

The Northwest and Southwest Pennsylvania Area Labor Federations are offering a joint training seminar, conducted by Dave Carpio, AFL-CIO Political Department, on speaking to fellow members, constituency groups, allies and the media about the Employee Free Choice Act.

WHEN: Saturday, March 14, 2009
TIME: 9:00 a.m.  ?  Noon
WHERE: IBEW Local 5 (Apprentice Classroom)

5 Hot Metal Street Pittsburgh, PA 15203 Morning Refreshments Free Parking in the lot across from IBEW Local 5.

New Location due to St.  Patrick?s Day Parade in Downtown Pittsburgh For further information and to RSVP contact:

Dave Vinski at 412-562-2428 or Jeff Calvin at 724-977-4422 or

Springfield Missouri Labor Council Endorses HR 676

Springfield, Missouri.  

The Greater Springfield Area Central Labor Council has endorsed HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation
introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

The Springfield Council is the 120th central labor council to endorse HR 676.

The Council’s resolution stated, “Administrative waste stemming from our reliance on private insurers consumes one-third of health spending,” and Bradley Stokes, Council President, added, “We recognize everyone in
America deserves access to affordable quality health care and strongly feel HR 676 can provide this.”

The Greater Springfield Area Council represents 10,000 working men and women in Southwest Missouri.  Stokes is the Business Manager/Financial Secretary of IBEW Local 753.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 485 union organizations in 49 states including 120 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, 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