The following is the official statement by AFL-CIO President Trumka
about the Senate bill.
December 17, 2009
The labor movement has been fighting for health care for nearly 100 years
and we are not about to stop fighting now, when it really matters.
But for this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men
and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to
fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win
health care reform that is deserving of the name.
The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care
reform and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance
industry have brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate: It is too
kind to the insurance industry.
Genuine health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance
companies accountable, assure that Americans can get the health care
they need and be financed fairly.
That's why we are championing a public health insurance option: It is
the way to break the stranglehold of the insurance industry over
consumers that has led to double digit premium increases virtually
Employers must pay their fair share.
And the benefits of hard-working Americans cannot be taxed to pay for
health care reform. That's no way to rein in insurance companies and
it's the wrong way to pay for health care reform.
Those are the changes for which we will be fighting in the coming days.
The Senate bill does some good things: It will provide health insurance
to 30 million more Americans and provide subsidies to low-income
individuals and families. Benefits will have to meet minimum standards
and insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based
on pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime or unreasonable annual
The bill also includes some relief for plans with early retirees as
well as delivery system reforms that may lead to lower costs over the
long haul. And Senate leaders have made a commitment to close the
Medicare prescription drugs doughnut hole which is so costly to seniors.
But because it bends toward the insurance industry, the Senate bill will
not check costs in the short term, and its financing asks working people
and the country to pay the price, even as benefits are cut.
The House bill is the model for genuine health care reform.
Working people cannot accept anything less than real reform.