For years working Americans have watched the country's health care system become less and less accessible to tens of millions of Americans. Costs have skyrocketed and high insurance premiums have made health insurance unattainable for many. Almost fifty million US residents-nine million of them being children-have no health insurance. And each year that number increases to new levels.
With health care costs rising at more than twice the rate of inflation and health care premiums having increased 78% since 2001-in contrast to a 19% increase in wages-we can no longer pretend that the health care crisis does not exist.
And this problem does not affect the uninsured only. The reality is that employers are increasingly shifting health care costs to employees. The result is that the high premiums, deductibles, and co-payments are a growing problem for America's employed who do have heath insurance. Even union workers, who have been on the forefront of the fight for health benefits for working people, are now in danger of losing affordable health coverage because of soaring costs.
In the end one's access to health insurance determines his or her quality of life. Without health insurance, a person cannot take part in preventive medicine, which can mean the difference between an enjoyable and comfortable life to one that is riddled with pain and disease. A person without health insurance cannot afford all the routine exams and visits that many of us take for granted but that are vital to a healthy life. These include yearly physicals, exams to detect cancer in the early and treatable stages, and more.
The AFM recognizes the need for affordable health care and is one of the unions leading the fight for reform. Through its legislative office in Washington, DC, which coordinates the AFM's lobbying efforts, the AFM has been working closely with key members of Congress and the leadership of the AFL-CIO. The AFM recognizes that this cooperation is necessary if any success is going to be achieved and is working vigorously to make reform a reality.
There are, however, powerful groups that oppose health care reform and would prefer that the system remain broken so that a few companies can reap the benefits at the expense of ordinary Americans. These groups use phrases such as "socialized medicine" and "lack of choice" to denigrate health care reform. Nothing could be further from the truth. …