December 22, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – A Single Payer Strategy Conference will be held at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan on January 14th and 15th, to address the issue of healthcare justice and strategize for anticipated upcoming fights as a result of the recent election.
Robert Score, Recording-Corresponding Secretary of Local 1, IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States) and a steering committee member of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, one of the groups presenting at the conference, spoke to LaborPress about the importance of advocating for a change in healthcare across the U.S.
“I’ve been on the steering committee of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare for a couple of years. We’ve had this conference in the past in Chicago, St. Louis, and Oakland, California. The reason I pushed for it to be in New York City is because in May of 2016, the New York State Assembly passed the “New York Health Act” universal health care bill, sponsored by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. This is the big one. It’s saying – a single payer health care system can work in New York State and save money for everyone, except of course, insurance companies, and that’s the battle.” The bill would have to pass the Senate and then be signed by the Governor, who up to now has not commented on the bill.
At the conference, activists from labor, politics and affected professions will speak and present over the two days. “Experts on economics, union participation, physicians, nurses and others will participate,” says Score. The last day of the conference will be the day before the Martin Luther King Day holiday, a confluence which Score says only serves to point to the similarities between this fight and those of the civil rights leader. “MLK was supportive of health care and unions. This will remind us of his influence on unions. We see single payer as similar to aims of the civil rights movement. This needs to be taken up by the citizens of this country. Everyone must realize what’s going on. Health care is a right.”
Score gives an example of the benefits of single payer in his own union, Local 1 of IATSE. “We have Welfare Fund Coverage. In every contract we have, a percentage of the deal goes to the Welfare Fund. If we had the single payer system, that would be eliminated, and that percentage would go into wages or pension or vacation pay, so it would be redirected and members would get different benefits.”
Score stresses that surveys show that the majority of Americans prefer the single payer system. He also notes that those who voted for Donald Trump, particularly blue-collar workers who rely on social services, will be sorely disappointed when those services are cut by the very administration they helped elect. “All those safety guards, social safety nets, will be removed. We see that as an opportunity to jump on larger advocacy for single payer, at least in the population – of course not the Republican Party. We’re the only industrialized country in the world without this system,” he adds.
Find out more about the conference and register at http://bit.ly/singlepayernyc