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. Kevin B

    I would support the unions position over the health insurance companies position on any day. The big insurers have proven over and over that they do not care one hoot about ensuring the equitable use of thier resources although resources have been protected by tax breaks and by over charging of premiums on all americans.

    Making large profits by denying health benefits and letting people die in america is immoral.

    Republicans would not reach out to help as person dying in the street, if it cost them a dollar.

    August 19, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. ObamaShrugged

    Public option means less payment to Drs. & hospitals (Medicare & Medicaid pay below cost now). This means less money for jobs and wages for hosptial workers – SEIU & nursing unions take note.

    Drs are Drs because they want to be wealthy. no one is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life on medical education to be paid like a ditch digger. Keep it up and we'll have Joe the Plumber performing by-pass surgery.

    August 19, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. diridi

    pass this health care reform with public option...and talk...dems,..go alone..and pass..ok

    August 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. Mississippi Mike

    Unions want socialized health care so they can go back to employers and say "Now that you don't have to pay our health care we want hefty wage increases and an expansion of our other benefits." The union bosses don't care about who runs the health care industry, they want to expand and collect higher dues. That's what this is all about.

    August 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. eolufemi

    I'm glad organized labor is stepping up and fighting for the rights of the working class.

    August 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Willy Brown

    How’s that Union“Change and Hope” working for you American comrades? So much for freedom of choice.

    August 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Welcome to The BoBo Show

    One more reason I dont buy ANYTHING UNION MADE

    August 19, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Melissa

    Good. Give us a public option. No more kissing the butt of greedy corporations.

    August 19, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. They call me "Tater Salad"

    leslie is right on point! I totally agree, Buy American and American's work! Shop at Wal-Mart and China "lives better" not America! Wake up people!

    August 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. George

    Good job. Unemploy all that oppose the public option. It doesn't matter which party the nay sayers are from. Lets retire them. It seems that most republicans in Washington are unemployed now. They're just sucking up tax payer money, like welfare people.

    August 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. makesUwonder

    Unions are the big problem. Just like government, they have way too much power, don't work real hard and get paid very well at out our expense.

    August 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Welcome to The BoBo Show

    Public option means Union Bosses get richer but I guess that is ok

    August 19, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. schmedly

    So the rep's don’t want to do much at all. The dem's want to take over the entire system. We had a good system that went unregulated for decades and turned corrupt.

    I wonder when some one is going to review the industry and find out what the problems actually are, before we spend a trillion dollars fixing it.

    August 19, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. Robert

    Thank you Mr. Trumka ... Continue to stand firm on this please..

    August 19, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Cindy PA

    Let the liberals in Congress bring this health care bill to a vote with the public option! No Republican should vote for it, then the Republicans can hang this bill on the Democrats and vote them out of office. Obama, the teleprompter president may see the light as too what the American people want. Stop piling on more DEBT, this is driving our nation into bankruptcy.

    August 19, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Unions are Great,we need one in walmart.

    August 19, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. annie s

    Good. I'll take pressure from anyone and anywhere to get a public option passed. It's the only way to true reform.

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

    big whoopee, still against it.

    August 19, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Right Leaning Independent

    Talk about thugs. These are the same people that helped bankrupt the Auto companies and they sure do not mind bankrupting the Government. I think unions should be banned from existence in the US!!

    August 19, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Tina

    I'm so happy to see that more and more people are standing up for the public optoin – thank you!!!

    I've noticed a lot of people using the Post Office as an example of how poorly the government runs a "business." (Example comment: "The government can't even run the USPS and you really expect them to run a governmental health care system for you?") But, what most people are ignoring is the fact that the internet and email has rendered 'snail mail' almost obsolete. Who can compete with instant mail? How many of you send letters anymore that aren't email? How many pay most if not all of their bills online – I haven't sent a bill via regular mail for years. Just a thought.

    August 19, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. Oregon calling

    No Public Option?!?!? No vote from me! I will vote only for people that are NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY PARTY!!

    Peace :-)

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

    Thank you, Democrats, for having some backbone. Please just release the bill with the public option included, even if it forces the Republicans to filibuster it. Better to reveal how useless they are then do nothing at all!

    August 19, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Cait

    Isn't John Sweeney President of the AFL-CIO, not Trumka? Come on, CNN, really.

    August 19, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. DC Insider

    God bless the Unions. They are one of the reason our car manufacturers are going out of business, and we can't be competitive with other countries. Union Bosses are so corrupt, they skim off the top and make sure their pockets are fattened before the people they are supposed to be representing are protected.

    Sadly, Obama and the Democratic party sold their souls at the election to get Union Money, and now they are coming and knocking. I fear that Unions are really going to play a factor in 2010. Personally, I wish Obama and others had never taken their money, because look where that has put us.

    August 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. GOP = 21st century dodo

    "IT IS BEYOND ME HOW OUR GOVERNMENT IS RUNNING. SPENDING IS OUT OF CONTROL, OUR DEBT IS OUT OF CONTROL AND THIS PRESIDENT ACTS AS IF JUST ONE BIG VACATION."

    Wow! That's a perfect description of the Bush administration from 2001-2008. You remember Bush? He's the guy whose tax cuts for the rich and 1 Trillion dollar illegal war depleted the bank and got us to where we are today.

    August 19, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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