AFT Resolution

ENDORSING H.R. 676 – SINGLE-PAYER UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE

WHEREAS, workers, their families and their unions are waging an increasingly difficult struggle to win or to keep good healthcare coverage.  Almost every union at every contract deadline must battle and sacrifice merely to sustain healthcare benefits. The rising costs of health insurance are blocking workers’ progress in wages and other areas. All of our unions face a healthcare crisis; and

WHEREAS, the crisis extends far beyond union members. More than 45 million people in the U.S. are currently without health insurance, more than 975 million went without for some length of time within the last two years, and millions more have inadequate coverage or are at risk of losing coverage.  People of color, immigrants and women are denied care at disproportionate rates, while the elderly and many others must choose between necessities and life-sustaining drugs and care. Unorganized workers have either no or inadequate coverage. The Institute of Medicine has found that each year more than 18,000 in the U.S. die because they had no health insurance; and

WHEREAS, we in the United States spend approximately twice as much as other developed nations ($7,129 per capita) on healthcare, but 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; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. health system continues to treat healthcare 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; and

WHEREAS, economic necessity and moral conscience compel us to seek a better way. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) (joined by 76 co-signers) has introduced H.R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, also called Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. This single-payer healthcare program proposes an effective mechanism for controlling skyrocketing health costs while covering all 45 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; and

WHEREAS, H.R. 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. H.R. 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. H.R. 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: 

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support the passage of H.R.676; and

RESOLVED, that AFT will continue to work in support of legislative initiatives that move toward our goals of universal coverage and access to quality healthcare at a reasonable cost.

(2008)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.