Health benefits should not be tied to jobs
Jime 1, 2013
Last week, physicians and a pharmacy student who are members of Physicians for a National Health Program (Illinois and Missouri chapters) and the Illinois Single Payer Coalition joined thousands of United Mine Workers of America members to support their demand for continuation and fulfillment of the health and pension benefits that the miners have earned as benefits from their long years of working in mines while being exposed to the harmful effects of coal dust, which include the development of black lung disease or carcinomas.
The story of Patriot Coal and its pending bankruptcy hearing is not new but represents another effort of a corporation to both destroy a union and to deprive the laborers of their earned health and pension benefits. As physicians, we have all seen the lung disease created by mining and know how much coal miners need their health benefits. We strongly support them in their continued actions to secure their much-deserved earned benefits.
Once again, this fight points out the need for a Medicare for All program in the United States. If health benefits were not tied to jobs, no one would lose their benefits because an industry felt the need to manipulate the structure of interrelated companies and corporations to insure shareholder return and to subsequently inflict pain and suffering on workers who toiled for many years in underground mines.
Unions have worked very hard to make sure that their members have health benefits. However, they are facing increasing obstructions to their efforts. Deductibles and co-pays are being raised. Plans that eliminate coverage for hospital care are being developed.
If single-payer health care became a reality (HR 676), the American people would be the organized bargaining unit demanding and insuring that health care is a human right for all.
Dr. Pamella S. Gronemeyer • Glen Carbon