Neil Conan interviews Andy Stern, caller calls Stern out on health care defeatism
WALTER (Caller): Yeah. Mr. Stern, I’d like to ask you why and before Congress at the present moment, there is a bill sponsored or co-sponsored by no less than 90 representatives, HR 676, which calls for universal single-payer national health insurance, which is the only solution, the only viable solution to the current health care crisis, and the only solution that your rank and file employees including myself that endorsed, while you reject HR 676 in favor of some nebulous plan put together by Barack Obama, somewhat similar to Hillary Clinton’s, that essentially guarantees every American the right to pay for their own health insurance at a very premium rate through companies that will cap that form – the form of care that…
Mr. STERN: I pretty – I understand. You know, A, we were the first union in America to endorse HR 676.
WALTER: Not you, though.
Mr. STERN: SEIU. Yes.
WALTER: I’m not talking about (unintelligible)…
Mr. STERN: So, yes, we were - under my direction and leadership, we endorsed HR 676, one. Two is this is not an academic debate. For a hundred years, America has been the only nation on earth that has not found an American solution to the health-care crisis. And we are on the verge today for the first time in my lifetime under Barack Obama’s leadership as a result of this election of making sure every man, woman, and child has quality affordable health care. And the two things we know about health care is the longer you wait, the worse it gets. And that if you let the perfect be the enemy of the good, nothing will happen. We have a chance to solve this problem once and for all. It’ll improve America’s competitiveness. It will get America started on the road to a health-care system we all can be proud of, and I don’t think we should miss the moment.
CONAN: You’re basically saying single-payer would be a better system, but can’t pass right now?
Mr. STERN: I would say single payer has been around a long time. It has obviously lots of advantages. It’s never been tried in the United States. It’s just an academic argument at this point in time that is not going to happen. Pete Stark acknowledges it, and many of the supporters in Congress acknowledge it. Let’s get something done in America because people are dying every day, or suffering every day, or insecure because they don’t have health care.
Some how we have to communicate to our union leadership that they are not hired to promote health care defeatism. Three cheers for Walter.