The Power of Labor Unions In Addressing Health Care

Once labor unions learn the truth about what’s driving health care costs and become aware of proven methods to reduce costs while improving benefits at the same time, they will become a powerful force for change.  

By Bill Rusteberg

Major employers and their labor union partners in Las Vegas have enjoyed hospital reimbursement rates below Medicare for years. Union backed initiatives in that town made a difference.

Once labor unions learn the truth about what’s driving health care costs and become aware of proven methods to reduce costs while improving benefits at the same time, they become powerful supporters of change away from the failed status quo strategies of the past 35 years.

The Pittsburgh Allegheny Schools Health Insurance Consortium (ACSHIC) is another example of labor unions and management working together towards controlling health care costs.

In his book, The CEO’s Guide To Restoring The American Dream, Dave Chase writes that the ACSHIC pays $4,661 per member while Philadelphia schools pay almost double that. He says “Understandably, unions want their members to be fairly compensated and keep schools from being decimated.” 

In North Carolina we see an epic battle taking place between hospital systems protecting their financial turf against the state’s drive to lower health care costs for their +720,000 health plan members through transparent pricing.

Hospitals are fighting hard against the state’s initiative to lower costs using Reference Based Pricing in lieu of traditional managed care contracts.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina is fighting back harder, urging hospitals to accept the state’s Reference Based Pricing plan scheduled to take effect in 2020.

Union leadership across the country are voicing concerns about the continued erosion of the American middle class. They point to the failed health care delivery system with increasing costs year after year, resulting in stagnant wages, reduced benefits and less take home pay. Union membership is suffering.

In a recent school board meeting at the Brownsville Independent School District in deep South Texas, a union representative spoke during the citizens-to-be-heard segment. He makes a powerful statement and asks the Board of Trustees why don’t they seize upon proven methods to reduce the district’s health care costs. (go to the last 15 minutes to hear his comments):

The Golden Era for labor unions in this country has just begun. Never before has their mandate been stronger. As historic champions for the American middle class they must act now. It looks like they may.

 

 

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