The AFL-CIO launched a campaign to achieve universal health insurance by 2009. America isnt running the way it should. Healthcare costs are pushing people to the edge and now 47 million have no coverage, said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney at a news conference to announce the initiative. Sweeney said the labor federation was making the 2008 elections a mandate on fixing the broken system. While its not endorsing any specific plan or presidential candidate, the AFL-CIO said it would fight for reforms that would control rising costs and give families the opportunity and responsibility for preventive care and the right to choose ones own doctor. The labor group is also asking the government and employers to do their fair share to restore balance to the system.
The first big push of the campaign will be in early September, when union members will hold President Bush responsible for his failure to support reauthorization of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, Sweeney said. The administration wasnt the only target at the news conference. The number of uninsured has risen 22% since 2000, yet the top five highest-paid chief executive officers in both healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry combined command a quarter of a billion in salaries each year, said Heather Booth, who will direct the AFL-CIOs new campaign. As part of our healthcare campaign, during the 2008 shareholder season, the AFL-CIO will focus on engaging public companies over health insurance and extravagant CEO pay in the healthcare industry, Booth said. Read about the campaign. -- by Jennifer Lubell