Our health care system is broken and it's hurting American families and businesses. That's why AFSCME is co-chairing "Health Care for America Now," an unprecedented coalition of major organizations including labor unions, community-based membership groups, women's groups, health professionals, businesses and leading netroots activists working together to push for quality, affordable health care for all.
For decades, we have been working to expand the American Dream to include health care for all. Year in and year out, we hear promises and pledges from politicians. But still, nothing gets done.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans live without health care. Millions more are routinely denied the health care they need by insurance companies that put profits over the needs of patients. Our businesses can't compete in the world economy because of escalating health care costs. The middle class is being choked. State and local government budgets are squeezed by skyrocketing costs. We have a broken system that leaves too many people on their own at the mercy of insurance companies.
This is wrong. It's immoral. It's got to stop. We don't need more needless delays, idle discussions or political posturing.
We need action. Fixing America's health care system must be a priority for all of us - especially union members. As health care costs rise, American workers are being forced to sacrifice wage increases at the bargaining table just to maintain health care. Health insurance premiums are going up three times faster than pay, and many working families are shouldering a growing share of the costs. They are paying more and getting less - while being forced to fight with the insurance companies to get the care they need and get their bills paid.
The scores of organizations joining "Health Care for America Now" are committed to building on the greatness of our nation by giving every American access to the finest medical care available anywhere in the world.
We know this won't be easy. We know the odds are great. But the odds were great when Americans cured polio, when we built the Hoover Dam, when we conquered the atom, when we put a man on the moon.
All we need is the political will. There is nothing we can't achieve if we put our minds and our hearts and our votes together. That's why we'll be organizing and lobbying, building a grassroots army to make 2009 the year we get health care that works for all of us -- providing people care they can afford with a doctor of their choice.
As we build a massive grassroots movement to solve our health care crisis once and for all, we've got a message for our elected officials: If you put profits ahead of patients, get out of the way. Don't tell us about reforms that lack a guarantee of coverage. Don't tell us about taxing the health care benefit employees receive on the job. Don't tell us that insurance company practices don't need to be regulated. Don't tell us that $10,000 deductibles are okay.
Those ideas won't work because they don't address two critical things we need to do: control escalating health care costs and guarantee access to everyone.
We don't have time to waste. We've got work to do. If you support quality, affordable health care for all, it is time to roll up your sleeves, get ready for work, and get on board.
Follow Gerald McEntee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AFSCME