Will Union Management of Bazillion Dollar Health Plans Hurt Universal Single Payer Health Care Progress
Will GM's exit from health care start a run, where employers rush to get out of health care provision?
There's a lot of power in managing a $32 billion dollar health trust-- one that could eventually exceed $50 billion.
Even the most honest, highest integrity, well intended leaders can be "lured" by the immense power provided by the clout of a $50 billion investment budget.
Will that power drive union leaders to oppose Universal single payer health care (USPHC)? Even before this huge autoworker deal, there was some evidence that union leaders were opposing USPHC because one of the benefits of working for a union is the union's advocacy for better health care benefits.
Once the unions start doing billions in business with the major health care companies and pharmaceutical companies, they will, in a sense, be "partners" with them.
Then, what about GM's getting out of the role of providing health care insurance to employees. Most of the presidential candidates have offered health care plans that depend upon corporate provision of health care for employees. The GM move potentially puts that whole idea up in the air.
What if hundreds, or thousands of companies get out of providing health care insurance to employees.
Right wing, anti government, pro-business people will just say "the market" will sort it out. But for who? Sure, GM will now get a break that makes it more competitive. But who's to say how the unions will take care of their retirees? These poor souls will be dependent on an organization that has little loyalty to them, since, as they are no longer working, they are no longer paying dues. (I'm not 100% sure on this, so let me know if I'm wrong.)
If the good guys hire one investment manager who screws up and puts the funds into an investment that heads south, what happens to those retirees. It only takes one person to screw up... assuming that all the people in the union leadership are honest. But with billions at stake, it's a lot easier to tempt weak willed people to throw away their integrity, to make deals with big pharma that produce deposits in offshore bank accounts, or deals with the biggest health insurers that lead to big bucks contracts a year after the deals are cut. It's just so easy to make this happen.
Yet this is all part of "the market."
It's not fair to the workers. This nonsense about government managed healthcare being socialized is nonsense. We don't call our police or fire departments or public schools socialized. We don't call our highway system socialized.
If GM and the UAW want to rescue GM from health care costs, they should push for the government to take over managing the retirees. That would be a great way for leaders in Universal health care to take the kinds of bridging steps necessary to eventually turn health insurance from a privatized system to a single payer government system.
Bush will scream. Republicans will scream. Democrats who are sell-outs to big pharma and the health insurance industry will scream. But at least some of the legislators will start on the path that could make Universal Health care happen.
Michael Moore said that we have faster access to some health care here in the US because we basically shoved almost 50 million people out of the line.
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