August 19th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Incoming AFL-CIO pres again draws the line on a public option

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Just a few days after warning Democratic lawmakers that failure to support a public option might cost them union support, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and incoming President Richard Trumka released a statement repeating the threat and promising to keep the heat on Congress and the Obama administration to support a government-run insurance option in the final version of the health care bill.

"We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises," said Trumka Wednesday. "If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people."

Undecided Democratic members of Congress have faced ads and grassroots pressure from both the left and right this summer. Much of the liberal pressure has come from the Health Care for America Now coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO, and Organizing for America, President Obama's campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee.

Earlier this week, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said Democratic members of Congress who opposed a public option could expect primary challenges next year.

(Full statement after the jump)

STATEMENT BY AFL-CIO SECRETARY TREASURER RICHARD TRUMKA ON PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION IN HEALTH CARE REFORM

A quality public health insurance option is a crucial part of health care reform to keep private insurance companies honest, hold down costs and ensure that everybody has a health care choice available. Key to holding down costs for families, for businesses, and for the federal budget is forcing insurance companies to compete. And the only way to force real competition on the insurance companies is a strong public plan option.

Unfortunately, the usual suspects opposed to reform are trying to hijack the reform process and attacking the public health insurance plan option because they are afraid of competition and they want to keep gouging working families. But unless we take decisive steps to stop the crippling rise of health costs, we will have squandered this moment of opportunity.

We will continue to relay that message forcefully to Congress and the White House.

We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises. If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people.


Filed under: AFL-CIO • Health care
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Leslie

    I back the unions. They fight for the working person. If it wasn't for them we would all me making minimum wage and the fat cats would be even fatter than they are!

    I buy UNION, I buy AMERICAN MADE! I DON'T SHOP WAL-MART! I own a union built home and only buy american cars. I keep my money where it will help Americans and keep them in jobs and not send it to foreign countries!

    Anyone who BOYCOTTS UNION BASED COMPANIES must be managment who makes the money off of the labor of the working class.

    KEEP IT IN AMERICA! BUYING TOYOTAS DOES NOT HELP OUR ECONOMY! YOU ARE SENDING OUR MONEY OVERSEAS! YOU ARE NOT KEEPING OUR PEOPLE IN JOBS!

    August 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. m jeff

    Either we have a public option or no option there is no middle ground. I agree with the unions, these insurance companies will keep raising premiums unless there is competition. OPTIONS WILL STOP GREED!!!!!!!!!

    August 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. ObamaShrugged

    "Either you're with us or against us!" – Didn't GWB take a beating from the left for uttering this phrase.

    Who knew all these hard-working, blue-collar, Liberty-loving citizens of the USA are members of a socialist organization. Time for them to replace their Star & Stripes with the hammer & sickle.

    August 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Sam Sixpack

    The "public option" is necessary so that pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever they want. As it is, they have to argue with those pesky insurance companies.

    Let’s all join hands and be the good Pharmaceutical Industry "tools" we know we can be.

    And, when we've all been good citizens and done our part , as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama's Special Advisor for Health Policy, describes our future: "services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

    August 19, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Obama Victim

    Union is bed with the Democrats............?? in other breaking news, the sun came up in the East today

    August 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Ann Marie

    What I do not understand is that Hawaii had universal healthcare and the system went bankrupt within 7 months. Massachusetts has it and it is a disaster. Our own public officials won't be on this. So why is it that when anyone questions this they are likened to a Nazi? It's not like people are in paramilitary outfits weilding clubs at polling places – not that that is wrong – just ask the AG.

    August 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. AnnP

    We need to clean house starting from our Fed gov down the line to our local town mayor & the council & throw the clicks out. They just don't get ~ they've bankruped the country. Our Senators are still loading bills with "pork rolls". Most of these people are not fit to run our country & we need to Vote them out. Unions have outlived their usefulness & are part of the economic problems. We need to free the countyr of them as well before our Auto industry is bankrupped as well. Don't listen to the politicians of what they promise campaigning but look for what they've done as our representatives ~ that should give you a clue abt their interests. Stop giving freebees to illegals who broke our laws send them home & take care of our OWN that had paid & contributed & not sucked it dry. Time for another Tea Party America.

    August 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. T

    Politicians actually keep their campaign promises without sticking to the general taxpaying (or mooching off the taxpayers) public? If their lips are moving it is generally a LIE, they are in it for themselves and anyone who believes otherwise is only fooling themselves.

    August 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Jack

    Public plan will not bring down the price of healthcare but it will raise the price of government. And as far as AFL CIO, the union of my father, I think he is spinning in his grave as how much they have become like the big business they once negotiated agianst. The unions have become just as much to blame for our current sad economic state as industry. Now they stand before MY STATE REPRESENTATIVE and threaten him...someone needs to explain that OUR REPRESENTATIVES are supposed to represent the people NOT A UNION! Now, get out of the people's business.

    August 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. John in WV

    A union contract with my employer allowed me to continue my health care for 2 years after I retired. In this 2 year period, my health care provider has attempted to discontinue my coverage 4 times just to see if they could get away with it. Do you think my ex-employer helped me to get my insurance continued? No. Do you think my phone calls to the insurance company got my coverage continued? No again. It was not until my union got involved that my coverage was continued. If anyone thinks that unions are outdated and unnecessary, they need to think again.

    August 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Voted4HealthCare

    This falls squarely at the feet of the Senate Finance Committee! Baucus and Conrad–Please write them to open FULL committee, as Americans voted for in a representative majority. Enough of the nonsense.

    ALL others (House of Representatives and President Obama) have done their jobs with willingness to pass health care with a public option. It is past time for the Senate to do the same, as our country elected them to do.

    August 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. I am The Great and Powerful Wizard of Rush

    Arguing with a RebirtherTea Party member is like arguing with a dining room table.

    Thank you Rep. Frank for telling like it is.

    August 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Who cares what unions think? Their representation of workers is in the single digits. I know. I'm in one. Unions are nothing more than a convenient Republican whipping-boy that like to make noise.

    August 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. New Yorker

    Unions share the blame for the destruction of this country. Their bosses are just as greedy as most of the CEO's of companies being bailed out.

    August 19, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Patrick

    Unions have causes a large chunk of the mess we're in. If the Unions are for it than I'm probably against it. It's sad that the democratic party has become enslaved to the unions interests.

    August 19, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. New Yorker

    Ann P is right; join your local "Tea Party". You can find one by doing a search. Just type in: Tea Party

    August 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. Mark

    Kinda sound slike the mafia lol...

    August 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. HonestMistake

    Sounds a little self-serving of the unions. Isn't that the same reason Dems were saying insurance companies were opposed to it – for their own self interest.

    August 19, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Angi's mom

    Good for AFL-CIO for telling it like it is. Americans expect their representatives to follow through with their campaign promises.

    August 19, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Jeff Brown

    Good for the AFL-CIO! This is what we need to defeat the useless "Blue Dogs!"

    August 19, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Angus McDugan

    Obama will listen to this guy.

    August 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. tpbco

    Comrades,
    So where's the Union Conventions this year? Vegas, Miami, Hawaii or maybe Cancun? How many of your brothers are out of work while the dear leaders attend?

    The Employee Free Choice Act is something right out of 1950's USSR. Secret ballots are as American as apple pie. The public option GUARANTIES every company and business will dump their employee health plans on said public option. Also why would ANYONE agree to a gov't plan that isn't exactly the same as Congress'? Or are they (who are supposed to work for us) more important than John Q. Public?

    What are democrats going to do when they run out of OTHER people's money?

    August 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. ObamaShrugged

    Don't Unions provide health benefits for their members? Why the public option? So Turdka can pay less for his members insurance and pocket the difference!

    Read the news, folks – Medicaid is going broke, Medicare is going broke, SS is going broke, the post office is going broke – And you want the entire healthcare system run by the same people.

    Tort reform is the answer and Obama has never mentioned the words. Cap malpractice awards and malpractice insurance goes down, defensive medicine goes away, and phony claims go away. But Congress doesn't want to tell their lawyer friends that they are the problem. John Edwards (D-NC) being at the top of the list!

    August 19, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Chris from NY

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At least I have a reason not to vote next time around.

    August 19, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. Mike in MN

    Obama and the unions can use a hammer to force a public option down the throats of voters, a majority of which do not support a public option.

    But voters have a hammer of their own they can use. Voters can vote Republicans back into power in Congress and the White House in 2010 and 2012. The Republicans could then gut out the public option before the bill would go into force in 2013.

    The ultimate hammer in America belongs to the voters, not Washington politicans that refuse to listen to their voters.

    August 19, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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