This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPACA). Many will celebrate the passage of a Bill that promises to extend Medicaid and private insurance to millions of Americans and we honor those whose support for PPACA came from a deeply held conviction that all people have the right to healthcare and that the government must play a central role in assuring that right.
If it is to have any meaning, this anniversary must be a time for summing up and looking ahead. It is a time to take a hard look at the accomplishments and prospects of PPACA. Kevin Zeese, one of the Baucus 8, does just that in a provocative article on FireDogLake. And Michael Moore and Donna Smith reflect on how the law would have affected their fellow Sicko victims in this moving interview on GRITtv.
PPACA today is under vicious assault from the same right-wing forces that want to deny public employees access to affordable healthcare, destroy the social safety net and attack workers rights everywhere. Even if it survives this assault and is fully implemented over the next 4 years, it will never succeed in providing universal access to affordable, quality healthcare to everyone in America. Only a publicly financed Medicare-for-All single payer system can deliver on that promise. We must do more than celebrate and defend PPACA. We must complete the unfinished business of healthcare reform or the dream of healthcare justice will die.
Workers and their allies in Wisconsin and the other Heartland states have shown that they are willing to fight long and hard when they are called upon to stand up for justice. It is time that we spread the Spirit of Wisconsin throughout the nation and stand in solidarity with all of those seeking to defend and expand the social safety net. The AFL-CIO and many other national labor organizations have called for a Day of Action on April 4-the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while he was in Memphis to support sanitation workers striking for the right to a union. We call on all supporters of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer to creatively and militantly participate in these actions.
The fight for healthcare justice can be a unifying theme in all of these efforts. This month, the AFL-CIO Executive Council voted to financially support the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and passed a resolution that points out that the only long-term solution to the Budget Deficit crisis is real healthcare reform on the social insurance model. Medicare itself is on the chopping block as 64 Senators (32 Republicans and 32 Democrats) recently signed a letter to President Obama calling on him to re-open talks on entitlement reform. We need to lead on this issue by showing that the best way to save Medicare is to expand it to everyone in America.
Congressman Conyers has reintroduced HR 676 with 39 co-sponsors. Senator Sanders and Congressman McDermott will soon introduce a joint single-payer Bill that incorporates several labor-friendly provisions. The Vermont Legislature just sent to the Senate a Bill that will put the state on track to establish the first single-payer system in the United States. Seventeen other states have had single-payer legislation submitted. Workers in the private sector still must fight every day to preserve affordable healthcare. Public workers, even in states with Democratic administrations, have seen their health benefits put on the chopping block by politicians too timid to confront Wall Street greed.
This is no time to sit on our laurels. Labor must take the lead in building a powerful movement to confront corporate power and extend healthcare justice to everyone in America.