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Labor unions push Charlotte for affordable health insurance
Advocates urge council to lower costs
Published Friday, September 27, 2019 2:06 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Charlotte City Workers Union rallied Sept. 21 at the Government Center to press City Council to support a resolution endorsing a national Medicare for All health insurance program. They were joined by organized labor groups across the South as part of an effort to demand lower health insurance premiums.

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Organized labor is mobilizing for working-class health insurance.

Members of the Charlotte City Workers Union, Chapter of UE Local 150, National Nurses United, Southern Workers Assembly and Healthcare Justice NC picketed in front of the Government Center last week to launch their campaign for affordable coverage, including passage of Medicare for All, which they contend is the way to contain health care costs.

“We are being gouged by insurance companies collecting enormous premiums. Under Medicare for All, an estimated $10 million will come back to Charlotte taxpayers and another $4 million back into the wallets and purses of city workers. Let’s join the rest of the industrial world and support a universal healthcare program which for us is Medicare for All,” said Dominic Harris, a utility technician in the Charlotte Water Department and president of the Charlotte City Workers Union.

The workers called on Charlotte City Council to pass a resolution endorsing HR 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019.  Similar resolutions have been introduced in the South, and city councils in Durham, Carrboro and Orange County have passed similar measures.

The number of Americans who signed up for 2019 insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, fell by 4 percent to 8.5 million people from 2018, the U.S. government reported in December.

The Charlotte picket included union workers from Georgia, Florida, Texas, West Virginia and the Carolinas as part of the Southern Workers Assembly school to organize as health insurance advocates.

Charlotte union organizers contend savings on city contribution to health insurance premiums under Medicare for All would add up to more than $10 million annually.  City workers’ premiums under Medicare for All would reduce employee costs by an estimated $3.7 million annually.

City union workers say they need relief from high premiums, citing the basic family’s coverage is $434.50 a month, or about 20% of take home pay for new workers. Under state law, city workers can’t bargain collectively, which means they can’t negotiate to lower the cost of their health insurance coverage.

“As a hospital RN in one of the largest hospitals in Corpus Christi, Texas, we find patients arriving at our facility who are sicker and sicker,” said registered nurse Kathy Gossett, a member of National Nurses United who joined the Charlotte workers.  “That’s because the insurance system does not fully insure them and they don’t get care when they need it.  Enough is enough.”

Although the Affordable Care Act expanded health insurance to millions of Americans, cost is often cited as a deterrent to seeking treatment or preventative care.

According to Commonwealth Fund data, one in three residents with insurance pass on a doctor visit or filling a prescription because of cost.  Forty-two percent of residents with a first time cancer diagnosis spend all their savings within two years.


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Posted on September 28, 2019

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