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National health care reform

WHEREAS:

Across the country, Americans face skyrocketing health care costs. The average per family cost of health care is now $7,700 per year. By the year 2000, if nothing is done, the cost is projected to be $14,500 per year; and

WHEREAS:

Millions of Americans lose health insurance every year — some 37 million people have no coverage at all. Over 100,000 people a month lose their health insurance. Workers are forced to take benefit cuts every day, and if you get sick, insurance companies deny coverage, just to make a profit; and

WHEREAS:

State and local governments have disproportionately borne the cost of care for our nation's uninsured and vulnerable populations. Skyrocketing health care costs, particularly as they affect the Medicaid program and employee benefit plans are undermining the fiscal viability and stability of these governments; and

WHEREAS:

Health care workers bear the brunt of rising health care costs, as hospitals everywhere scramble to cut costs by cutting services and jobs; and

WHEREAS:

The current health care system urgently requires comprehensive reform. At the same time, it should be recognized that any change will inevitably result in a major restructuring of both the public and private health care delivery system. The reformed system must be adequately funded in order to guarantee that no one will lose benefits and that services will be available for our nation's neediest citizens, including the poor, the mentally ill, seniors and the developmentally disabled; and

WHEREAS:

AFSCME has long been a strong supporter of a comprehensive, single-payer health care reform plan of universal coverage for every American, regardless of income, health status, employment or geographic location. The Union has long advocated that health benefits be comprehensive, affordable and financed on the ability to pay. Furthermore, cost controls must be included in the national program; and

WHEREAS:

AFSCME has long advocated equal treatment of public and private employers and employees, in regard to financing and opting-out of the national system, as well as the provision of health care services. Moreover, the Union has supported strong enforceable worker protections for any worker who may be displaced by the restructuring of the health care delivery system; and

WHEREAS:

There are two proposals introduced in the Congress which encompass many of the principles that AFSCME supports. They are the McDermott-We11stone single-payer reform bill and President Clinton's national health care reform proposal. While these proposals meet the requirements of universal coverage, comprehensive benefits and cost controls, both need stronger employee protections, and the President's plan needs to be strengthened to ensure that all employers, public and private alike, are treated equally. The President's plan also needs to protect states against Medicaid cuts that would result from a proposed federal benefit package that is smaller than Medicaid mental health benefit.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

That AFSCME will support the single-payer and Clinton legislation for universal coverage, comprehensive benefits and cost controls, provided they are amended to ensure parity of treatment between public and private employers, continuation and improvement of publicly-provided health care services such as mental health and mental retardation services, public hospitals and clinics, and worker protections for affected health care workers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

That AFSCME members not only press for adoption of the Clinton and single-payer plans with amendments, but also work to defeat 4 the competing managed health care plans that do not meet any of the Union's principles for national health insurance. These plans, including legislation sponsored by Representative Cooper and Senator Breaux and Senator Chafee, tax either health benefits or limit the deductibility for employer-sponsored health plans, and deny coverage to many millions of Americans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

That AFSCME will urge the Congress and the President to support legislation which embodies these principles as well as adequately fund the public health delivery system, including the Medicaid program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

That AFSCME will use every means available in the campaign for comprehensive national health care; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

That AFSCME will enlist the support of organizations and coalitions for national health care reform.

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