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Resolutions & Amendments

37th International Convention - Chicago, IL (2006)

AFSCME’s Health Care Reform Blueprint for 2007 and 2008

Resolution No. 5
37th International Convention
August 7-11, 2006
Chicago, IL

The number of Americans without health insurance has increased steadily in the last two decades, and this growth has accelerated under the Bush Administration. There are now approximately 48 million uninsured, up from 39.6 million in 2000; and

The number of employers offering health benefits has also been declining. In 2006, just 61 percent of firms made coverage available to employees, down from 69 percent in 2000; and

The decline in health care coverage offered to employees can be tied to the astronomical increases in the cost of employment-based health benefits. Since 2000, the cost of health benefits has more than doubled; and

Retiree health care coverage is eroding and the implementation of Governmental Accounting Standards Board rules will exaggerate and distort the costs of retiree health care coverage which in some cases may jeopardize their continuation; and

Our national problem with health care requires a comprehensive solution that only federal action can provide. The current Administration and previous Congresses have shown no leadership on the issue of health care but, as a result of the 2006 election, opportunities for progressive health care have been enhanced. Yet AFSCME and other advocates for meaningful reform need greater legislative majorities and a progressive health care thinker as President; and

In the absence of federal leadership on the issue, many states are making serious efforts to provide solutions to the myriad problems plaguing our health care system. However, states typically do not have the economic or legal capacity to bring about access to quality affordable health care for all; and

The AFL-CIO Executive Council issued a statement at its March 2007 meeting calling for the enactment of federal health care reform that achieves universal, comprehensive and affordable coverage, choice of providers, pooled risk, fair financing, cost control, quality care, and protection of the benefits levels that union members now enjoy.

That the International Union and its affiliated District Councils and Locals will lead AFSCME members in a vigorous advocacy effort and a member education and mobilization program to build support for federal legislation that achieves comprehensive and meaningful reform and otherwise participate in the legislative and political process for the purpose of achieving quality, affordable health care for all; and

That AFSCME supports the health care reform principles enunciated by the AFL-CIO:

Universal Coverage

Financing Through Shared Responsibility

Effective Cost Control

Do No Harm

That AFSCME supports federal legislation that meets these principles, such as the Medicare for All Act drafted by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and the AmeriCare Health Care Act drafted by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA); and

That health care reform is the responsibility of the federal government because only the federal government has the resources and the legal authority to implement the necessary systemic reforms; and

In the absence of federal solutions, states will continue to initiate their own reforms of the health care system, especially reforms targeted to the most vulnerable populations. Some of these reforms, such the reforms adopted in Massachusetts in 2006 which rely on “individual mandates,” are incompatible with AFSCME’s principles and long term interests. Others, such as proposals to expand S-CHIP, are worthy of the union’s support. AFSCME must carefully weigh its involvement in state based reform based on whether our participation advances the union towards its ultimate goal. The union's participation will be based on the following guidelines:

  1. The reform can be strategically used to advance the union towards its health care reform goals.
  2. The reform provides comprehensive coverage, including preventative and primary care, and does not create unreasonable financial barriers to care, such as high co-payments and deductibles.
  3. The reform includes a plan for financing based on shared responsibility and identifies new sources of funds, or realigns current health care funding, but does not rely on the existing overburdened general fund revenue stream and does not shift more of the financial burden for care to workers.
  4. The reform relies on creating broad risk pools and not on individual market approaches.
  5. The reform addresses quality, cost and the long term sustainability of the health care system.

 Ralph Palladino, 2nd Vice President and Delegate
 Eddie Rodriguez, President, and Delegate
 AFSCME Local 1549, Council 37
 New York

 Joel Schwartz, President and Delegate
 CSEA Local 446/AFSCME Local 1000
 New York

 Juan Fernandez, President and Delegate
 Janice Williams, Delegate
 Sheera Glass, Delegate
 Mark Heron, Delegate
 Thomas Orowiec, Delegate
 Morris Johnson, Delegate
 AFSCME Local 154, Council 37
 New York
 Ronald C. Alexander, President and Delegate
 Kathy Stewart, Secretary/Treasurer and Delegate