The Time for Single Payer Health Care Is Now


Yesterday the Labor Campaign for Single Payer joined the growing number of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare advocates who have responded to President Obama’s State of the Union challenge to “let him know” if there is a better approach that “will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare, and stop insurance company abuses.”

In a letter sent to the White House, the 35 labor leaders on the LCS-P Steering Committee called the current stalemate on healthcare legislation unacceptable to the American people.

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February 3, 2010

Dear President Obama,

The lives and livelihoods of a vast majority of Americans have been held hostage for decades by this country’s failure to provide an equitable, socially just health care system.  Your Administration should be commended for identifying the need and pushing for a comprehensive solution to this uniquely American dilemma.  But this year’s rancorous, special interest driven Congressional debate is now stalemated over differing House and Senate passed Bills, which do not meet the test of either equity or justice.

As grassroots representatives of millions of this country’s union members and in the interest of all working people, we respectfully submit that taking the single-payer solution off the table was both a strategic and tactical mistake.  Medicare is an example of a successful single payer model and it is a very popular health care program.  A “Medicare-for-All” system would be far more cost effective than any of the proposed current reforms based on the continuation of for-profit, market-based insurance.  And it is a program that Americans are already familiar with — a solution right at our fingertips.

The rising cost of health care is one of the biggest issues in the collective bargaining process.  Many working families have given up wage increases and are being asked to cover more of their health care costs.  Others are losing their health care benefits altogether because more employers are dropping individual and family coverage.  This is a crisis and a moral issue.  People currently covered by private health insurance are understandably apprehensive when it is suggested that their only alternative to degrading that coverage is not to be covered at all — as is the current situation for approximately 50 million of our fellow citizens today.

Our current jobs crisis is further aggravated since the cost of health care in the U. S. is almost double that in other industrial countries, making our export sector increasingly uncompetitive and a major cause of the off-shoring of jobs.

At this past year’s AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh, on the very day that you, Mr. President, addressed the Convention and were so warmly received, the delegates unanimously adopted a detailed resolution in support of a Single-Payer, “Medicare for All” system in America.

We welcome your call for a better approach that will “bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare and stop insurance company abuses.”  We submit to you that a “Medicare-for-All” health care system accomplishes all of these worthy goals, contrary to the untruths that have been advanced by opponents of true health care reform.

The American people deserve better.  We want our leaders to solve the health care crisis and to do so in a transparent way.  No one in this country should have to fear losing their health care coverage or face bankruptcy.  This is simply unacceptable for the United States of America.  The time for single payer health care is now.  We urge you to use this impasse as the time to put single payer health care on the table and into the health care reform discussions as the real solution.  Millions of working people and an overwhelming majority of unionists voted their confidence in your call for “change we can believe in.”

Respectfully Submitted,

The Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care Steering Committee & Advisory Board

cc: Nancy Pelosi
Harry Reid

LCS-P National Steering Committee

Karen Ballard, President NY State Nurses Association
Larry Barragan, President Los Angeles Ports Council
Michael Bilbrey, 1st Vice-Pres. Calif. School Employees Assoc.
Mauro Camporeale, Exec. Director Bergen Cnty CLC
Al Cholger, USW Staff Rep. – Detroit
Jeff Crosby, President, Northshore MA CLC
Donna Dewitt, President South Carolina State AFL-CIO
Mark Dudzic, USW & Labor Party
Sandy Eaton, MA Nurses Association
Jon Flanders, Moderator NY Labor for Single-Payer
Fernando Gapasin, West Central Oregon CLC
Bill Gibbons, USW Regional Dir. (Ret)
Don Giljum, Business Mgr. IUOE Local 148
Ed Gorham, President Maine AFL-CIO
Bill Henning, Vice-President CWA Local 1180
Sandra Hottin, MA Nurses Association
Peter Knowlton, Vice-President New England UE
Martha Kuhl, Treasurer CNA/NNOC
Paul Kumar, Political Director NUHW
Tom Leedham, Secty-Treasurer IBT Local 205
Traven Leyshon, President Wash./Orange/Lamoille, VT CLC
Martha Livingston, United Univ. Professions, AFT 2190
Lew Moye, President St. Louis CBTU
Rodney Orr, Political Director CWA Local 9119
Josh Pechthalt, Vice-President UTA-Los Angeles
Lenny Potash, LA Task Force for Single-Payer
Jim Savage, President USW Local 10-1
Van Seawall, Ohio Workers United
Robert Score, RecSecty IATSE Local 1
Jerry Tucker, Former Intl UAW Exec-Board
Charles Uruquhart, ME Labor Group on Health
John Walsh, Massachusetts JwJ
Jos Williams, President DC Metro CLC
Nancy Wohlforth, California State AFL-CIO
Cindy Young, Calif. Sch. Employees Assoc.

Click here to download the letter in PDF.

For more information: Labor for Single-Payer c/o IUOE Local 148, 2929 S. Jefferson Ave., St., Louis, MO 63118; Phone: 314-865-1300; Web site:; E-mail:; or FAX 314-968-7301.

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