UAW Strike Points To Divide Among Union Groups — And Democratic Candidates — On Health Care Policies
Members of the United Auto Workers union pay about 3% of the total cost of their health care and members say they are eager to keep those benefits. But some Democratic candidates and other unions are calling for revamping U.S. health care and moving to a government-funded system. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling for eliminating medical debt.
Many Union Workers Really Love Their Health Benefits. That's A Problem For Bernie Sanders.
Health care benefits are really important to many union workers -- important enough to give up pay raises or even to walk off the job to keep the coverage they've negotiated. Now the future of those benefits is at the heart of an emerging split among 2020 Democratic candidates over how to remake American health care. Former Vice President Joe Biden says union members shouldn't have to give up their employer plans if they like them, while Sen. Bernie Sanders is arguing that union workers would still come out ahead under "Medicare for All," which would shift all Americans into a government-run plan. (Luhby, 9/22)
'Truly Saved My Life': GM Workers On Strike Fight For Benefits As Automaker's Profits Soar
For Brad Heitz, the General Motors strike couldn't be more personal. He credits the health insurance plans the United Auto Workers won from the automaker with saving his life – and worries those kinds of benefits could start disappearing if the strike isn't successful. "If it weren't for the UAW, I don't think I would be alive right now," said Heitz, who works at the GM plant producing Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups and Chevy Express and GMC Savana vans in Wentzville, Missouri. (Woodyard, Sauber and Martinez, 9/20)
The New York Times:
Warren And Biden Join U.A.W. Picket Lines As Democrats Use Strike To Court Labor
The Democratic presidential candidates have been chasing labor support all summer, appearing at small union halls and large conferences, and tweeting support for workers at companies like Amazon and Walmart. But now, as the United Automobile Workers, one of the nation’s largest unions, stages a strike that has even drawn words of support from President Trump, Democrats are seizing the moment to align themselves with workers in public and dramatic ways. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts walked the picket line Sunday alongside striking General Motors workers at an assembly plant in Detroit. Not to be outdone, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared at another G.M. assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan. (Saul, 9/22)
Are GM Employees On Disability Still Getting Health Care?
But as tens of thousands of GM workers across the U.S. strike for their continued health care benefits, job security and a path to permanent employment for temporary workers, Keller is getting conflicting messages from his employer and his insurance provider, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. GM canceled health care coverage for employees on strike earlier this week, despite an earlier understanding that employees would be insured through September. But those who were on disability leave before the strike should still be covered, according to the company. (Sauber, 9/20)
Also heard on the campaign trail -
The New York Times:
Bernie Sanders Calls For Eliminating Americans’ Medical Debt
Bernie Sanders has long wanted to remake the health care system so no one will have to pay directly for medical care again. Now, he also wants to go back and cancel all the medical debts of people who have been billed under the current system. In a plan released Saturday, Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator and presidential candidate, proposes wiping out an estimated $81 billion in existing debt and changing rules around debt collection and bankruptcy. He also calls for replacing the giant credit reporting agencies with a “public credit registry” that would ignore medical debt when calculating credit scores. (Sanger-Katz and Ember, 9/21)
Sanders Unveils Plan To Eliminate Americans' Medical Debt
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday released a plan that seeks to cancel $81 billion in past-due medical bills for Americans. “The very concept of medical debt should not exist,” Sanders said in a statement. “In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, one illness or disease should not ruin a family’s financial life and future." (Axelrod, 9/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Voters Support Expanding Medicare But Not Eliminating Private Health Insurance
Democratic presidential candidates are presenting policy ideas that are broadly popular with Americans, including tuition-free state colleges, but other proposals—such as Medicare for All—could complicate the party’s prospects next year, the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows. Two-thirds of registered voters support letting anyone buy into Medicare, similar to an idea that former Vice President Joe Biden and some other Democratic candidates have proposed. (McCormick, 9/22)
Poll: Voters Back Medicare Expansion, Keeping Private Insurance
The majority of voters in a new poll supports a health care plan that would expand a public option but maintain the private insurance industry. Sixty-seven percent of registered voters support allowing people under 65 to have an option to buy health care coverage through a Medicare program, while keeping private insurance options available, according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll released Sunday. (Klar, 9/22)