Union Leaders to Campaign for HR 676, The National "Medicare for All" Bill During Congressional Recess

For Immediate Release

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Mark Dudzic, 201-314-2653

Union Leaders to Campaign for HR 676, The National "Medicare for All" Bill During Congressional Recess

WASHINGTON - During the Congressional recess, labor leaders across the country will press their elected representatives in Congress to support HR 676, the "Medicare for All" health care bill.

 
For example, in Los Angeles a delegation of local labor leaders from the Labor Task Force for Universal Healthcare is arranging to meet with Rep. Henry Waxman, Chair of the Energy & Commerce Committee, in his district office. 
 
"Congressman Waxman has been a longstanding supporter of single payer "Medicare for All."  Now that he chairs the crucial Energy and Commerce Committee, we expect him to help lead the fight for HR 676," said Lenny Potash, Co-Chair of the Labor Task Force, composed of 30 unions in the Los Angeles area.
 
In Northern California labor delegations led by the California School Employees Union (CSEA) have a luncheon scheduled with Congressmen Cardoza and McNerney on Feb. 19 where HR 676 is on the agenda.
 
In New Jersey, activists from the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council and the Bergen, Passaic, Monmouth and Burlington Central Labor Councils will challenge Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. to endorse HR 676 at his annual labor breakfast on Feb. 20.  Labor leaders are also planning meetings with Congressmen Rothman and Sires in New Jersey.
 
"Last year Rep. Pallone told us he supported single payer but he did not think it was politically viable.  Since then, polls have shown that the majority of Americans support Medicare for All and the economic crisis demands bold solutions.  We'll be asking Frank Pallone to listen to the people and not to the lobbyists from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries," said Ray Stever, President of the New Jersey Industrial Union Council.
 
In Vermont, the AFL-CIO and the Vermont Workers Center are generating emails and phone calls to urge Rep. Peter Welch -- who co-sponsored HR 676 in the 110th Congress -- to sign on again.  They will also be thanking Senator Bernie Sanders for his leadership on advancing the single payer concept and asking him to co-sponsor a version of HR 676 in the Senate.
 
In Massachusetts, more than 40 labor leaders have signed onto a letter to President Obama raising concerns that some policy makers in Washington are proposing reforms based on the new statewide health care plan that features an "individual mandate" requiring all citizens to buy health insurance.  The letter, spearheaded by the Jobs with Justice coalition states:
 
"The [Massachusetts plan] is too expensive for many individuals forced to buy health insurance.  It has failed to control costs and it has cost the state far more than initially projected.  As a result, many critical health care facilities that serve low-income communities are facing huge cuts, while health care premiums continue to rise by double digits year after year.  The Massachusetts Plan is widely recognized as unsustainable and now that we are facing an economic crisis, it is even more problematic."
 
Instead of individual mandates, the letter urges the President to support "Medicare for All" health care legislation as the "most fiscally prudent and morally imperative direction for successful health care reform."
 
A delegation of the letters signers will deliver a copy of the letter to Sen. Edward Kennedy's Boston office on March 19. 
 
"Senator Kennedy co-sponsored "Medicare for All" legislation in 2007.  We hope he will keep taking a strong stand against the special interest groups opposing this common sense approach to reform," said Jeff Crosby, President of the North Shore Labor Council and one of the letter's signers.
 
The actions in support of HR 676 during the Presidents' week recess are coordinated by the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care, a group backed by more than 150 labor leaders from more than 30 unions. 
 
The national single-payer bill, HR 676, has been endorsed by 39 state AFL-CIO federations, 100 Central Labor Councils, and more than 400 local unions.  Last year, the bill had 92 co-sponsors in Congress, more than any other health care reform bill.
 
Los Angeles
Contact Labor Task Force for Universal Healthcare coordinator Lenny Potash at: lennypotash@gmail.com or visit www.laborforsinglepayer.com
 
Northern California
Contact Rose Roach at: rroach@csea.com or visit http://pub.csea.com/cseahome
 
New Jersey
Contact New Jersey Industrial Union Council president Ray Stever at: rayiuc@aol.com or visit http://njsiuc.net
 
Vermont
Contact Washington-Orange-Lamoille Labor Council, AFL-CIO coordinator Traven Layshon at traven_l@earthlink.net or visit http://centrallaborcouncil.org
 
Massachusetts
Contact Jobs with Justice director Russ Davis at russ@massjwj.net or visit www.massjwj.net
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The primary purpose of the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care is to increase grassroots labor support for H.R. 676 as an essential element in winning the support of Congress to enact the National Health Care Act "Medicare for All" as the public policy of this country because we believe that health care is a human right.

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