TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As the Florida congressional delegation returns to Washington this week to re-open debate on health care reform, the Florida AFL-CIO is keeping the pressure on to pass health care reform legislation.
Union spokesperson Rich Templin said the need is clear, citing a recent study that reported two out of five Floridians were uninsured in 2007-2008 - nearly 5.8 million people.
He added that even folks with insurance have seen out-of-pocket expenses go up 500 percent in five years, while insurance company profits have gone up 1,000 percent.
"The American people are being bilked by the health insurance industry. It is causing businesses to suffer; it is causing people to suffer. Every piece of our struggling economy is somehow touched by this health care fiasco," Templin said.
He said the AFL-CIO won't back down until working Americans have a choice of coverage similar to Medicare.
Critics say a public option will increase costs and drive insurance carriers out of business. But in an AFL-CIO poll, more than half the people surveyed said they could not find health insurance at a price they could afford, Templin said.
"The Labor movement will not support health care reform that does not include a public option; that does not require big employers to start paying their fair share; that does not reduce costs overall; and that taxes hard-working people's benefits."
He said soaring health care costs are causing a record number of bankruptcies and foreclosures in Florida, and layoffs in businesses of all sizes.
"Until we solve the health care crisis, until we reduce costs, until we cover all Americans and find a way for everyone to have access to the health care services they need, our economy is not going to improve," Templin said.
The union has held rallies across the state in recent weeks, and Templin said most Floridians are passionate about ensuring that all Americans have access to health care.