The Electrical Worker online
April 2017

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Fix Health Care, Don't Destroy It

Last month, just as this newspaper was going to print, Republicans in Congress published their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and it was exactly what we thought it would be: a giveaway to the wealthy and the insurance industry and a slap in the face to those who can least afford it.

Let me be very clear. This plan is a terrible idea — terrible for working people, for retirees, for anyone who has ever struggled with an illness or been concerned about paying for health insurance, knowing that they could be an accident away from financial ruin.

We in the labor movement have always fought for quality, affordable health care for our own members, and we've always pressed employers and the government to make sure more people have the security and peace of mind that health insurance provides.

This plan does neither of those things.

When the Congressional Budget Office weighs in with their analysis — likely before you read this — we'll know better how many people will lose health coverage, but let me promise you, it will be millions, more likely tens of millions. We'll also know how much it will cost, and you can guess who's going to pay for it — not the insurance companies or big corporations — you.

At this point, a lot of the details are still unclear. But one thing we do know, millionaires will get a huge tax cut under this plan that will endanger the health of the Medicare trust fund in the years ahead, just when our retirees need it the most. It will also raise rates on people age 50-64, just when they should be saving all they can for retirement.

At the IBEW, we've never been afraid to criticize the parts of the Affordable Care Act that weren't beneficial to our members — the 'Cadillac tax' on premium health plans comes to mind — but throwing the whole thing out because of partisanship and an unwillingness to compromise makes no sense.

Let's work together to fix the parts of this vital program that need to be fixed — to give consumers more options, to modernize the health care system and reduce costs, and to do away with costly taxes on plans rightfully negotiated between employers and their employees.

If we let House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans in Congress get away with this plan, you can bet they're coming for your Medicare and Social Security next.

The current proposal comes at a time of great anxiety for working people around the country. The ACA is riding its highest approval ratings ever because Americans are worried about how they're going to pay for their next visit to the doctor.

Back in January, Donald Trump promised "insurance for everybody" and lower health care costs; we're going to hold him to that promise. If he goes along with the plan put forward by leaders of his party, he's in for a serious fight.


Also: Stephenson: Filling the Gap Read Stephenson's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer