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Wisconsin's Greater West Central Area Labor Council Endorses HR 676

By Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676, August 13, 2012

The Greater West Central Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO, of Wisconsin, has unanimously endorsed HR 676, national single payer health care. The labor council, which represents affiliated local unions in Eau Claire, Chippewa, Dunn, Pierce, Pepin, Polk, St. Croix, Barron, and Clark Counties, released the following statement.

 "Millions of working people go without health care insurance in the United States.  The current system continues to treat health care as a commodity designed for profit.  Populations with the most need are at the mercy of the HMO’s and insurance agencies competing for sectors with the ability to pay, rather than providing affordable and accessible options for universal, comprehensive health care coverage.  The Council is totally opposed to any of kind of a voucher system.

"We continually witness our Members struggling with employers in contract negotiations over benefits as the obscene cost of health care continues to be the major barrier towards resolution.  Retirees who have previously agreed to wage reduction to obtain health care benefits are now losing those benefits.

"The Council agrees a single payer health system is part of a morally correct solution to the nation's health care crisis."

The council is the 4th one in Wisconsin to support HR 676.  The others are the South Central Federation of Labor, the Greater Green Bay Labor Council, and the Washington County Central Labor Council.  In addition, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO endorsed HR 676 at its convention in 2006.

Judy Gatlin, Executive Board member of the council representing the Wisconsin State Employees Union Local 1914 of AFSCME Council 24, released the council's statement.  Gatlin is also a board member of the Wisconsin Labor History Society.

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HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare to everyone residing in the U. S.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments.  HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 76 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.