AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement regarding the Senate's passage of health insurance reform legislation:
"In the face of inexcusable partisanship, obstruction and gamesmanship, it is remarkable that Majority Leader Reid was able to move a health care bill through the United States Senate. Not since the passage of Medicare 44 years ago have we seen Republican scare tactics so blatantly contrary to the interests of the American people.
At this historic moment, it is so important to the future of working Americans-and to our country-to get health care reform right. Despite doing some good things, the Senate bill remains inadequate. Substantial changes must be made in the final bill.
Genuine reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance companies accountable, assure that all Americans can get the health care they need and be financed fairly.
* That's why we have been steadfast in support of a public health insurance option. It is the way to break the stranglehold of the insurance industry that has led to skyrocketing health care costs that have especially penalized small business.
* Employers must pay their fair share.
* It makes no sense to tax the benefits of hard-working Americans to pay for health reform. The House bill curbs
insurance companies and taxes the wealthy who benefited so richly from the Bush tax cuts. The Senate bill instead includes exorbitant new taxes on middle class health benefits that would affect one in five workers with employer-provided health coverage-or about 31 million people-in 2016. That's the wrong way to pay for health care reform and it's political suicide.
The House bill is the right model for reform. It covers more people, takes effect more quickly and is financed more fairly. The AFL-CIO is ready to fight on behalf of all working families to produce a final bill that can be called genuine reform. Working people cannot accept anything less."