Saturday, December 01, 2018

On Health Care--MORE Is Hard of Reading

An issue dear to my heart is universal health care. I've been close to people who've died as a result of our unconscionable system. This has shaped much of my political thought, and has made it virtually impossible for me to support GOP candidates for just about anything. That's not to say all Democrats are good either. I can't recall many things quite so disappointing as Hillary saying single payer will never, ever happen.

For some reason I was sent a Politico Pro article put out by one of the people who conducted the great MORE purge. Some of my friends didn't make the cut of being extreme left enough to hang with the elitist MORE clique. It's kind of odd the fashionable leftists get Politico Pro. Last I heard, that cost like a million dollars a year. Maybe ISO subscribes. They make a lot of money selling those newspapers, I guess. Here's part of what the piece says:

Public-sector unions are gearing up to fight legislation that would establish New York State as the health insurance provider for all residents, worried the sweeping bill would curtail their benefits and negotiating power.
New York City labor leaders gathered in the Lower Manhattan offices of District Council 37 Monday to relay their concerns about the bill to its sponsors, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, several sources familiar with the meeting told POLITICO. The conflict puts unions at odds with an issue popular in the liberal wing of the Democratic party.

So one might come to this conclusion, as did the MORE person who sent it out:

Interesting that our union leadership is taking a position AGAINST single payer for NY State...

Of course if you actually read the piece, you would come to a different conclusion altogether. For one thing, nowhere does it say that union takes a position against single payer. Also, nowhere does it even mention UFT. It does say this:

Labor leaders also worry the bill would invalidate their collective bargaining leverage around health plans, thereby nixing the city's roughly $1,500-per-employee contribution to individual union funds. Those accounts cover a variety of expenses, including prescription drugs, hearing aids and glasses.

I have family in Canada, and my family in Canada is union. Not many people know that Canada does not have a national health care system. Rather, each province has its own system. I'm hopeful that we can emulate that, and that New York can lead the way. In fact, my brother-in-law's union plan, among other things, pays for his family's prescriptions. I don't suppose I have to tell you that prescriptions are prohibitively expensive in the United States. Until and unless that is corrected, and even if it is, it's the union's role to cover members somehow. I'm glad to see union fighting for various welfare funds.

I envision a role for union in health care similar to that of what it takes in Canada. Of course we would need a welfare fund. And as we don't know what universal health care would look like, there might be other roles for union to play. For example, there are all sorts of supplements to Medicare that people buy. Union could perhaps cover whatever shortfalls a new system might eventually show.

I certainly don't want to just dump the Welfare Fund. I think it's worth protecting. In fact, if you actually bother to read the entire piece, it looks like that's what the bill's sponsors want to do as well:

The lawmakers say they are now revising the legislation to address the unions' concerns, namely that the city's insurance options for its 380,000-employee workforce would not be reduced. City government offers some plans that cover virtually all employee costs, but the Albany bill has a provision that would charge workers a portion of the state tax used to pay for the $311 billion initiative.

I'm having trouble finding the part where any union whatsoever, let alone UFT, opposes single payer. It sounds like the bill's sponsors, in fact, want to accommodate union concerns and have everyone on board when this bill comes to a vote.

"Each union sets up its own welfare fund plan and it's funded through the contributions, and if you don't have the contributions, you don't have the welfare fund," Greg Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, said on Wednesday.
He was present at the meeting, which he estimated 150 people attended.
Gottfried said he and Rivera reached out to the Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group representing city unions, to collaborate on the bill.
"As Gustavo and I keep telling them, this is what our parents raised us to do. We were not raised to screw city workers. Or any workers," Gottfried said.
The new legislation would ensure employers continue their current rates of coverage, he said. The bill would also end up providing more than city workers currently receive, he added: "More services covered, more prescription drugs covered and when the bill is reintroduced in 2019, it will be broadened even more."
"There will be no deductibles or co-pays, there will be no restrictive network and no out-of-network charges," Gottfried added.
And any savings the city incurs — which he estimates would total $10 billion a year in reduced Medicaid expenses and payroll taxes — would replenish a fund partially controlled by unions under the proposal.
It sounds like sponsors will modify the bill to not only offer universal health care, but also to ensure that we retain our Welfare Fund benefits. In fact, it sounds like they want to go above and beyond. I see no reason any union would oppose such a bill, and indeed gaining union support appears to be a primary goal of the sponsors.

Like most Americans, I support universal health care. Acquiring health care for all Americans is a top priority, and that acquiring it for all New Yorkers will help us move the country in that direction.

For the record, UFT has endorsed universal health care. There's no reason we can't achieve it without weakening existing benefits for members. It's quite clear to me that's what the Teamsters president is looking for, and it sounds like that's the direction in which we're moving. That's something to be celebrated.

Reading is fundamental. Even the leaders of what's left of MORE, who've managed to take a small victory and craft it into a crushing defeat for opposition in general, ought to know that. Beyond that, they ought to put it into practice.
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