One of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s reasons for his Health Care Deforminator ABX1 1, which would have imposed a massive tax hike to fund “universal” private health care, was that it would short circuit calls for single-payer, government-monopoly, “universal” health care. Indeed, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a single-payer bill, SB-840, in September 2006.
And yet, a handful of the governor’s supporters are barely camouflaged fans of government-monopoly health care. I already reported a radio debate I had with the scholar who wrote the analysis supporting the governor’s reform for the New American Foundation, who pretty much admitted that the real, long-term, objective of reform was single-payer health care.
Now, another supporter has come out even more forthrightly in favor of a complete government take-over of health care. Here’s Andy Stern, President of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), at the SEIU’s annual convention in Puerto Rico just days ago, pronouncing:
“…..If we pass the Justice for All plan, and we take advantage of this unique moment in political history, then I pledge we will, before the next convention, proudly join our Canadian brothers and sisters to be a nation that guarantees affordable health care for every man, woman, and child…..”
(That would be the Canadian, government-monopoly, health care system that the Canadian Supreme Court itself found violates Canadians’ civil rights by denying access to health care.)
So, why did the SEIU support Gov. Schwarzenegger’s legislation, if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s plan would stop single-payer? Indeed, the SEIU’s in-state “ally”, advocacy group Health Access California wrote an ,analysis supporting the bill!
Mr. Stern’s “pledge” clarifies that which confused me in my previous post: Why state senator Sheila Kuehl, the undisguised advocate of immediate state take-over, stop ABX1 1 in the senate health committee? Why the inconsistency? Why do “guerrilla” fighters for government-monopoly health care advocate getting half way there via “universal” mandatory private health insurance, while “stormtrooper” advocates resist this approach?
I now think that this is really about union power: specifically, which union would wield the power under government-monopoly health care. As I’ve written before, SEIU is in a bitter struggle against the California Nurses Association to organize in California (and other states). Senator Kuehl is an ally of the CNA, which mobilized to defeat Schwarzenegger’s ABX1 1.
It is impossible to over-emphasize how important it is to union bosses that they take over health care through government monopoly. But this has nothing to do with “health care”. Rather, it has to do with diverting money from actual health care to non-medical workers. In British Columbia, Canada, an economist found that wages in “hospitality”-type jobs were 9% to 39% higher in the unionized, government-funded hospitals, than in unionized, privately owned hotels!
However, it’s a winner-take-all outcome: there can be only one union running the show when the state takes over health care. (You don’t see competing unions trying to sign up different U.S. Postal Service post offices, do you?)
So, a reasonable conclusion is that if the state takes over health care in the short term, both the CNA and the SEIU believe that the government will hand the prize to the CNA, and drive out the SEIU. If it goes through a period of mandatory private health coverage, the result could be the reverse.
Union versus union for control of California health care: It’s not a pretty sight. But it’s even uglier that Gov. Schwarzenegger doesn’t realize that he’s picking sides in a fight that he doesn’t even want to be in.