Democratic Dialogue, Anyone?
With members of Congress back in their home districts this month, union and community activists have the chance to play a pivotal role in winning comprehensive health care reform and to show that support for quality and affordable health care is deep and wide.
Meanwhile, phony grassroots groups and extremist fear mongers are waging a campaign of disruption and shout-down mob actions, backed by an avalanche of health insurance industry-funded, lie-filled ads about President Obama’s health care reform proposals.
The U.S. House already has adjourned for the summer, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she hopes to have a bill ready for a vote in mid-September. Three House committees have approved various parts of health care reform legislation, and those parts must be merged into one bill.
In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee passed its version of reform earlier this summer, but the Finance Committee still must act. The Senate remains in session this week, although the Finance Committee is not expected to act until mid-September.
As we pursue reasoned dialogue and democratic action—not mob-run tactics—the AFL-CIO union movement is working with allies such as Health Care for America Now! (HCAN!) to ensure big turnouts for town hall and community forums with House and Senate lawmakers.
National unions are asking their local unions to reach out to rank-and file members with letters and worksite fliers, reminding them what’s at stake and encouraging working families to attend town hall meetings and to contact their lawmakers.
State and local union leaders are arranging meetings with members of Congress, telling them not to back down on key health care reform principles, including:
- A strong public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers and give working families a choice of private or public coverage.
- Shared responsibility, including an employer “play or pay” provision.
- Fair financing that does not tax health benefits.
- Cost savings.
- An end to insurance company abuses.
The Alliance for Retired Americans also is mobilizing to recruit members to attend town hall meetings with lawmakers and plans a series of events highlighting the need for real health care reform.
Working America canvassers will be out in neighborhoods across the country talking to families about health care reform.
We will keep you posted on health care reform actions during the congressional August recess.