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Press Statement by John Newton

Member of the Executive Board of the Maine AFL-CIO

State House, Augusta, Maine
October 19, 2010 11:00 AM
Welcome Center

John NewtonI am here today to speak on behalf of all Maine workers, those who are represented by labor unions and those who are not.

The message that I bring you today from the Maine AFL-CIO is that we are advocating for legislation that will put us on the path to having a Maine Medicare for All plan very soon—not in 5 years, not in 10 years, but right now. And, we must, before any more people—either those with health insurance or those without it—have to choose between receiving the care they need or heating their home in the winter, or feeding their children, or keeping up with their mortgage payments.

Our fragmented, grossly inadequate health insurance system is unique in the industrialized world. No other country spends so much for so little. Some have suggested that unionized members have "Cadillac" health plans, which are too expensive and, perhaps, offer too much in benefits, thus overburdening our health insurance system. As a 30-year employee of the Federal government who is represented by a union, I can tell you that my share of the health insurance premium and my co-pays, deductibles, and prescription drug expenses have been continually growing while my benefits continue to be reduced. Sound familiar? What is the message here? As Maine working people, we should not let false arguments divide us. A Medicare for All healthcare program will cost Maine less than what it currently costs to cover only some of us, and inadequately at that.

We must recognize that we are united in our need for a uniform, comprehensive, and affordable system that guarantees health care for all. The Maine AFL-CIO has been a supporter of a universal publicly financed health system for over 30 years, and we are a leader nationally in the movement for single payer health care. Starting today, let's move ahead together to create a system that guarantees quality, affordable universal healthcare for all Mainers.