AFL-CIO Healthcare Move Impacts Prez Race

Bill Scher

Today’s Daily Labor Report has big news from the AFL-CIO Executive Council annual winter meeting:

The AFL-CIO … abandoned its support for the current employer-based health care system and instead is calling for comprehensive health care reform through the expansion of Medicare.

Gerald Shea, assistant to the AFL-CIO president for government affairs, said the AFL-CIO for years has advocated for universal coverage but also has supported employer-based insurance until a universal plan can be adopted. Although that is still the case, he said the federation now is saying that “employer-based coverage is so expensive it can’t last.”

Shea said the federation would be evaluating the health proposals of all the presidential candidates in 2008 based on the tests outlined in the proposal.

The full AFL-CIO statement lays out 12 criteria, including:

  • While the market has an important role to play, our government—as the voice of all of us—must play the central role in regulating, financing and providing health care.
  • Because everyone faces the possibility of poor health, risks should be shared broadly to ensure fair treatment and equitable rates, and everyone should share responsibility for contributing to the system through progressive financing.
  • Individuals should retain the ability to select their own doctors and other health care providers.
  • Reform efforts must include effective mechanisms for controlling costs, requiring information on provider performance and enhancing efficiency.

The AFL-CIO endorsement is still highly coveted by presidential candidates. So this steps up the pressure for candidates to offer real reform that will cover everyone, improve quality and cut costs.

Candidates looking for guidance can check out our Healthcare for All page

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