Health care for all

The following resolution was passed unanimously, September 12, by the Ohio AFL-CIO.

WHEREAS, every person residing or employed in the United States is entitled, as a matter of right, to accessible, affordable and quality health care; and

WHEREAS, health care is not a product or commodity, but a fundamental human right of all citizens and residents of Ohio, without regard to sex, age, race, income, place of employment or any other circumstance; and

WHEREAS, health care premiums increased an average of 11 percent in 2001 and are projected to increase by 14 percent or more in 2002. Double digit increases in overall premiums are expected to continue for several more years; and

WHEREAS, state and local governments are caught between major revenue shortfalls and escalating health care costs for their employees, as well as for Medicaid and other public program recipients. Health care providers such as hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are caught between higher health care costs for their employees and reimbursements which all too often do not cover their real costs; and

WHEREAS, public and private employers try to shift the cost increase onto employees and retirees who are hit especially hard with thousands losing health care coverage at a time in their lives when they are most in need of coverage; and

WHEREAS, it is estimated that the complex and redundant bureaucracy arising from the existence of multiple, for-profit insurance plans, each with its own distinct program of coverage and benefits, its own costly administrative and executive structure, and its own system of processing managed care approvals and payment of benefits and/or reimbursements, wastes up to 30 percent of medical coverage premiums paid for by employers and private citizens; resources that have been handed back to employers from the wages of workers to cover higher health care costs, or that could be used to provide benefits; and

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization ranks the United States 37th in the world in the overall quality of health care, behind such nations as Colombia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Costa Rica; and

WHEREAS, a growing number of Ohioans, including doctors and medical professionals and advocates such as Physicians for a National Health Program; Ohio Nurses Association; Ohio Council of Churches; The Episcopal Diocese of Ohio; Universal Health Care Action Network Ohio (UHCAN Ohio); Single-Payer Action Network Ohio (SPAN Ohio); political leaders; city councils and county commissions and trade unionists and local unions have called upon the Ohio General Assembly to act without delay to pass publicly funded universal health care for all Ohioans; and

WHEREAS, the Bush administration and Congress have walked away from any effort for fundamental health care reform; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio AFL-CIO recognizes that there is a growing crisis in health care in the United States, manifested by massive layoffs, a steep increase in premiums, co-payments and deductibles, and the closing of many health care facilities serving low-to-middle income residents, thereby, constituting a need for swift action.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ohio AFL-CIO continues to work towards the establishment of a national health care plan that provides quality, affordable health coverage to all people by supporting House Concurrent resolution 99, directing Congress to enact legislation providing for access to comprehensive health care for all Americans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Ohio AFL-CIO will urge Congress to consider proposals for a single-payer, publicly-funded, not-for-profit health plan; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Ohio AFL-CIO will make health care reform a central issue in the 2002 and 2004 elections by calling upon the Ohio General Assembly, to act without delay, to pass publicly funded universal health care guaranteeing coverage for all Ohioans.