Public-sector unions are definitely off the bandwagon for single-payer health insurance in New York, because it’s a bad deal for them. Of course, that’s true for most New Yorkers.
The Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group representing city unions, met last week with Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, the sponsors of the single-payer bill, Politico reports. Their demand: a carve-out so they can keep their current health-insurance arrangements.
Key players in the progressive coalition, the unions can’t be ignored. Indeed, Gottfried reportedly promised them their coverage could continue, and maybe even get better.
Problem is, lots of folks are likely to lose out under a single-payer plan, forking over more cash than they do now in exchange for weaker coverage. That includes pretty much everyone getting health coverage from large employers, for starters. Why can’t they get carve-outs, too?
Unions argue that they’ve made concessions on pay and other fronts in order to win great health benefits. Under the Gottfried-Rivera bill, their members would instead (like everyone else) fund their insurance via a payroll tax.
Organized labor is particularly suspicious because it feels like the Affordable Care Act also harmed its interests, with changes to members’ health policies and added taxes on their benefits. Unions, fumes Teamster Local 237 head Greg Floyd, “went along with the ACA and are still taking it in the neck.”
(By the way: Unions often don’t pay as much for their benefits as they pretend. As the Citizens Budget Commission noted last week, Team de Blasio is yet again playing accounting games to credit the municipal labor force with millions in imaginary health-care savings, which “funds” very real pay hikes.)
The drive for one-state single-payer is unlikely to succeed here: Hyperliberal California and Vermont both looked hard at adopting such systems in recent years, but gave up after looking at the vast tax hikes the change would require.
But the fact that it means a worse deal for most people is also pretty damning. So too, in a different way, is the fact that progressive pols are only willing to protect some of those potential victims.
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