Steelworker head hails House health reform bill

PITTSBURGH -- Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW), issued the following statement July 15 in response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ health care reform bill:

“Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and their families are appreciative of efforts by the U.S. House leadership to fix our broken health care system by introducing ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act’ (HR 3200). The legislation meets President Obama’s goals to control runaway health care costs, offering all Americans real choices for expanded access to quality health care.

“It creates a high quality public health insurance plan option that will bring real competition for private insurance from day one. It calls on corporations to pay their fair share and will no longer permit free riders to off-load their health care costs onto the national system. The House bill introduces much-needed insurance market reforms so that pre-existing conditions will be covered and discriminatory practices will no longer be tolerated.

“We are especially pleased this bill provides for a temporary reinsurance program for pre-Medicare retirees ages 55-64 that will help employers continue to provide coverage, as health care costs have skyrocketed for this vulnerable population.

“Health care reform must be acted on by Congress before they go home for their August recess. USW members will be sure to echo the urgent message that health care reform cannot wait.

“Today I’ve transmitted a USW letter to the each of the three congressional chairs of the committees that worked on this historic bill to provide unqualified praise for working together to make good on the promise of providing quality health care accessible and affordable to all Americans.

“The House Tri-Committee bill deserves our recognition. The Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; and Education and Labor Committees have together produced landmark reform. Chairmen Henry Waxman, Charles Rangel and George Miller know they can count on Steelworkers to vigorously fight attempts to weaken this bill in the remaining legislative days.”