"We are here to shame Congress and the Bush administration into coming up with a national health-care policy."
This comment came Wednesday from Ed Mayne, president of the AFL-CIO in Utah, during a rally at the Federal Building plaza, 125 S. State, that was part of a nationwide attempt to focus attention on increasing health-care costs and a growing number of people who have little, if any, health insurance."Health-care providers are making enormous profits while others are taking cuts in benefits and wages," Mayne told the nearly 100 labor union members, union supporters and retired union members.
There are more than 37 million Americans without health-care coverage and 17 million in addition with little, if any, coverage. "In today's society, every American family must be guaranteed access to cost-effective comprehensive, quality health care, regardless of health status or income," Mayne said.
He said people are dying because they can't afford health care, and many are staying away from hospitals because they can't afford treatment. He didn't say what type of health-care policy the country should have, but noted that the United States and South Africa are the only democratic countries without a national health-care policy.
Mayne also was critical of recent reports of proposals to reduce Medicaid and Medicare benefits to the elderly, saying those are the people who can least afford to have their benefits cut and their premiums increased.
For many years, the health-care issue was a low priority item, Mayne said, but now with changes in the emphasis on where dollars are spent, it is one of the most critical issues facing the country.
He was critical of health-care providers who have been increasing their profits by 12 percent annually while inflation has increased only 3 percent to 5 percent in recent years. He said employers are putting more pressure on employees to take cuts in benefits or pay more in premiums.
"This greed must be suspended," Mayne said.
Co-chairmen of the rally were Randy Warner, president of the Communications Workers of America, Local 7704, and Gordon Ottley, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 1004.