The 31st Constitutional Convention of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) held in Las Vegas August 5-8, attended by 2,500 union leaders from across the US and Canada, was convened under the banner “Fighting to Win.” It took up issues connected with collective bargaining, organizing, global justice and political activism. The convention adopted a special resolution calling for a new universal and comprehensive healthcare system. The resolution, titled “For a Single Payer Healthcare, Publicly-Funded, Not-for-Profit Health Plan” and passed as an “emergency measure,” was referred to the convention by action of USWA Local 1375.
The resolution reads in part:
WHEREAS, every person residing or employed in the United States is entitled, as a matter of right, to accessible, affordable and quality health care; and
WHEREAS, this Union, the United Steelworkers of America recognizes that there is a growing crisis in health care in the United States of America manifested by massive layoffs, a steep increase in premiums, co-payments and deductibles, and the closing of many health care facilities serving low-to-middle income residents; and
WHEREAS, 44 million people in the United States have no health insurance coverage and that number is increasing rapidly; and
WHEREAS, 42 million people having only limited insurance are one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy; and
WHEREAS, insured persons now commonly experience unacceptable and sometimes life-threatening delays in obtaining approval for needed health care services by private, for-profit health insurers; and
WHEREAS, it is estimated that the complex and redundant bureaucracy arising from the existence of multiple, for-profit insurance plans, each with its own distinct program of coverage and benefits, its own costly administrative and executive structure, and its own system of processing managed care approvals, and payments of benefits and/or reimbursements, wastes up to 30% of medical coverage premiums paid for by employers and private citizens; resources which otherwise could be used to provide benefits; and
WHEREAS, the bureaucratic structure and its inefficiencies distract health care providers from providing efficient and effective medical services to patients and places a drain on the financial resources of taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, this Union contends that a single-payer, publicly-funded, not-for-profit health plan will: eliminate the redundant bureaucracy caused by numerous insurers; greatly reduce administrative costs associated with providing medical care; free-up additional financial resources; allow medical providers to focus their efforts on providing quality care; and reduce the cost of health care coverage for residents and employers; and
WHEREAS, this resolution constitutes an emergency measure providing for the immediate preservation of the public health; now therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA:
Section 1. That the Delegates to the Thirty-First Constitutional Convention of the United Steelworkers of America urges the United States House and Senate to commit to enact a comprehensive, publicly funded, not-for-profit health insurance program covering: (a) all residents of the United States of America as well as all dependents of United States residents, whether residing within the United States or elsewhere; and (b) all persons employed in the United States, regardless of residence within or outside of the United States, as well as their dependents.
Section 2. That this Thirty-First Constitutional Convention urges the prompt passage of Single Payer Health Insurance System so that upon its effective date:
i. Health insurance will be provided to all persons employed in the United States and their dependents by or through their federal, state and local public and private employers, including all health insurance previously provided by the federal, state and local government to its employees, thereby relieving these employers of the cost and administrative burden of providing health insurance coverage; and ii. Every person will be covered by one uniform program of health insurance benefits, including prescription drug coverage, dental care, vision care, long-term care and coverage for mental illness on full parity with coverage for all other types of illnesses; and iii. A Commission will be created, as an independent agency of the federal government, to implement and administer the Single Payer Health Insurance program; and iv. The Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program will be designed and maintained so as to guarantee health care services of excellent quality, timely delivered and accessible to all; full support for ongoing medical research, medical education and training; full choice of providers; and access to comprehensive, preventive and long-term care; and v. All federal, state and local funds allocated for health care purposes by Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, and other programs will be directed to the Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program, after obtaining the necessary waivers; and vi. Any person who while covered by the Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program requires health care services anywhere in the world will be entitled to Single Payer Health Insurance program benefits to pay for such services to the extent payment has not otherwise been provided; and vii. Any resident displaced from employment by the private health insurance industry in this United States as a direct result of the enactment of Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program will be eligible to receive, at state expense, retraining and temporary financial assistance to facilitate reemployment without significant loss of income, and will receive preference for hiring for employment by the Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program Commission in any position for which the displaced resident is qualified; and viii. Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program will be funded by utilizing federal, state and local monies that currently are used to fund existing federal, state and local health care programs, and any additional funding mechanism deemed necessary to ensure that Single Payer Health Insurance benefit program is fully funded with adequate reserves.
Section 3. That the Secretary-Treasurer of the United Steelworkers of America is hereby requested to forward a copy of this resolution to the members of the United States House and Senate.