UAW: For a healtier America

UAW members help build movement for single payer health care
by Kim Ashby
Local 862

A grassroots movement is underway to educate people about single payer health care in Kentucky.

The goal of the movement is to educate people about the unjust treatment of patients and the profiteering of insurance companies. There are over 45 million people in the United States currently without health care, and 557,000 are in Kentucky.

More than 18,000 Americans die each year for lack of health insurance. Drug companies’ profits average four times those of other Fortune 500 companies. The United States is the only industrialized nation without national health care.

Our country pays 50 percent more of our Gross Domestic Product on health care than nations with national health care programs. Consequently, the richest country, according to the World Organization, ranks a mere 37th in the world in quality health care.

In 2003 a group of concerned individuals formed Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare (KSPH). Linda Peeno, a physician; David Bos, of the faith community; Kay Tillow, a nurse; Ann Walsh, activist; Garrett Adams, physician; Edgar Lopez, physician; and many others, including UAW members, are working to inform the public about the benefits of a single payer health care system.

They have formed a coalition of individuals joining with other organizations across the country working to pass universal, single payer health insurance as embodied in the plan of the Physicians for National Health Program and in HR 676, the Medicare for All legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

HR 676 calls for a National Health Insurance Act, an expansion and improved version of Medicare for All. “Why is this issue important and what has it got to do with me?” is a question many people ask who have little knowledge about the subject. Often they have never given the issue a second thought because they have health care and believe they will be all right.

This is what the proposed bill would provide. The new legislation, if passed, would save billions of dollars now spent on unnecessary duplication and obscene administrative costs. It would eliminate profiteering health care.

HR 676 would allow individuals the ability to choose their own physicians. It would pay for prescriptions. It would include coverage for home health, nursing home, dental, vision, mental health, hospitals, office visits, physicians and rehabilitation. It would cover everyone and remain in place even if one lost a job or retired.

The Conyers bill would restore trust to a mean and broken health care system. It would provide that all employers pay a modest tax similar to Medicare. It would eliminate co-pays and deductibles. It would give to all Americans health coverage equal to that of each official in Congress.

By joining in coalition with other organizations and building a national movement strong enough to win the support of the elected representatives, the Kentucky Single Payer Healthcare group hopes to spread the message about single payer health care.

Another desire of the movement is to inform and educate the public about the issue. The Kentucky group is working toward a positive solution that puts an end to the anger and frustration provoked by an unjust health care system. KSPH is building toward hope and health for everyone by making what is morally right also politically possible within the state of Kentucky. If we can win a single payer health care system in Kentucky, KSPH then wants to help the single payer resolution spread to other states across the country.

Everyone can help spread the message by writing, calling or faxing your member of Congress and asking him/her to support HR 676, as introduced by Rep. John Conyers.

You can also visit the website and sign the petition for HR 676. Join Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare or start a movement in your own community or state to support single payer health care.

You can also ask a speaker from KSPH to come and talk to your group about the issue, circulate petitions, and get a resolution for HR 676 passed in your local union. There are endless possibilities of ways to get involved. Just look at the possibilities and seize the one that is most comfortable for you.

Want to join the movement to help build a better health care system that will take better care of every American? Click on copyright © 2005 International Union, UAW