Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Capable of great medicine, America’s health care system is in deep trouble. Our system of health insurance has become not only too costly but simply inadequate. Medicaid is in crisis. All of us are at risk — all but the private insurance industry. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The health care crisis facing our country explodes into every collective bargaining session. Employers drive to cut benefits. Health costs shift to individual workers. Health insurance dominates every contract consideration, killing progress in wages and other benefits.
Too many retirees, after a life of hard work, are stripped of health coverage. Health care bills cause over 50% of bankruptcies — and three out of four of those bankrupted by medical bills had health insurance at the outset of their bankrupting illness!
The U. S. spends 16% of gross domestic product (GDP) on health care, twice what any other industrialized nation spends, yet ranks 37th in performance according to the World Health Organization. We lag behind other industrialized countries in life expectancy and infant mortality.
In New York State 2.8 million people, including nearly 500,000 children, had no health coverage whatsoever in 2006. One out of three New Yorkers, roughly 7 million people, went without health insurance at some point during 2006-2007. Nearly 58,000 New Yorkers filed for personal bankruptcy in 2006.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do better.
HR 676 is legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) and co-sponsored by 86 members of the House of Representatives including New York Representatives Yvette Clark, Eliot Engel, Maurice Hinchey, Carolyn Maloney, Michael McNulty, Gregory Meeks, Jerrold Nadler, Charles Rangel, Jose Serrano, Edolphus Towns, and Anthony
HR 676 would establish a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to cover everyone. It would restore our right to choose our physicians and free us from insurance company red tape and interference in medical decisions.
HR 676 would cover everyone 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, chiropractic and long term care.
HR 676 will end deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 will save billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.
HR 676 has already been endorsed by 30 state labor federations, 94 Central Labor Councils, and 348 union locals and other labor organizations in 48 states.
We request that your organization join with us in endorsing HR 676.
We can help our fellow union members by taking health care off the bargaining table. By standing up for all working people, and leading the effort to provide healthcare for all, we will affirm labor’s rightful role as a leader in the fight for social justice.
The enclosed resolution is provided as a sample for your convenience. Please send us a copy of any resolution your local approves and send copies to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney (815 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20006); New York State AFL-CIO President Dennis Hughes (50 Broad St., NYC, NY 10004); the member(s) of Congress who represent your members and Senators Clinton and Schumer. If you would like a representative of our coalition or a medical doctor from Physicians for a National Health Program to speak to your local to learn more, please let us know.
RESOLUTION ENDORSING HR 676 — Single Payer Universal Health Care
All of our unions face a healthcare crisis. We must wage an unnecessary and difficult struggle to win or to keep good health care coverage. Almost every union at every contract deadline must battle and sacrifice merely to sustain health care benefits. The rising costs of health insurance block our progress in wages and other areas.
But the crisis extends far beyond union members. More than 47 million people in the U. S. had no health insurance during all of 2006 and more than 75 million went without it for some length of time within the last two years. Millions with health insurance lack adequate coverage or risk losing coverage.
People of color, immigrants and women suffer from inequalities in access and delivery of health care, while the elderly and many others must choose between necessities and life-sustaining drugs and care. Unorganized workers have inadequate coverage or none. The Institute of Medicine reported that each year more than 18,000 in the U. S. die because they had no health insurance.
While we in the United States spend approximately twice as much of our gross domestic product as other developed nations on health care, we remain the only industrialized country without universal coverage. Our problem worsens each year as insurance costs increase and as gradual solutions have failed to make a dent in the problem.
The U. S. health system continues to treat health care as a commodity distributed according to the ability to pay, rather than as a social service to be distributed according to human need. Insurance companies and HMOs compete not by increasing quality or lowering costs, but by avoiding covering those whose needs are greatest.
Economic necessity and moral conscience compel us to seek a better way. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) (joined by 86 co-signers) has introduced HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, also called Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.
This single-payer health care program proposes an effective mechanism for controlling skyrocketing health costs while covering all 47 million uninsured Americans. The bill also restores free choice of physicians to patients and provides comprehensive prescription drug coverage to seniors, as well as to younger people.
HR 676 would cover every person in the U. S. 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, chiropractic and long term care.
HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save billions annually by eliminating high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs. The transition to national health insurance would apply the savings from administration and profits to expanded and improved coverage for all.
A single payer program as provided by HR 676 is the only affordable option for universal, comprehensive coverage.
That __________________________________ wholeheartedly endorses Congressman Conyers’ bill HR 676, “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All,” a single payer health care program.
That __________________________________ 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 also politically possible.
That __________________________________ 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.
Our local union/district council/labor council has endorsed HR 676:
City__________________________ State _______________________ Zip__________
Phone:__________________ Fax:_____________________ email:_____________________