I have stated repeatedly that I think the fight over some form of nationalized health care is over, and that we will one day have a European-style system in place. The only question is when big business will successfully pressure the government to take over and how much of their current health care funding responsibilities they can manage to lay at the feet of government.
Yesterday, the NY Times has a piece stating that some of the real firm opposition to nationalized health care comes from, of all places, unions:
Most advocates of universal health care focus on the opposition of Republicans and insurance companies. But perhaps the most important factor keeping an overhaul off the national agenda is one that few Democrats acknowledge: most of Mr. Gettelfinger’s fellow labor leaders don’t support a single-payer system either.
The reason comes down to simple self-interest. The United Auto Workers is one of the few private-sector unions that doesn’t run its own health plan. Rather, most have created huge companies to administer their workers’ plans, giving them a large and often corrupt stake in the current system.
Opposition to a national health care plan is as much a part of the American trade union tradition as the picket line. It goes back to Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, who railed at early Congressional efforts to pass a law mandating employer coverage as Britain had done, which he said had “taken much of the virility out of the British unions.”
This line of thinking led to the notorious decision in 1991 by the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s health care committee to reject a proposal that the federation support a single-payer plan. The majority said a national system simply had no chance in Congress, but others saw a conflict of interest: government-supplied health care would put union-run plans out of business.
Which, of course, would mean that opposition to nationalized health care would create some strange bedfellows. Anyone have more on this?
*** Update ***
More here from Ezra Klein.