The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Peter Finn with 856 Public Policy Coordinator newly elected City of Alameda Vice Mayor, Malia Vella.

Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn with 856 Public Policy Coordinator and newly elected City of Alameda Vice Mayor, Malia Vella.

Every challenge presents an opportunity, and no doubt about it, we are facing some very challenging times ahead. However, now is not the time to recoil and feel sorry for ourselves, we need to go on the offensive and take a stand for issues that are important to us, such as quality, affordable health care. We have an opportunity now to take the fight to insurance companies and demand they redirect their focus from padding their bottom lines to providing the quality, affordable, health coverage we deserve.

When we sit down at the bargaining table, maintaining affordable, quality health care is always a top priority. However, as big health insurance companies continue to increase rates, employers attempt to shift more and more of the cost of health care to us. Too often, money won in negotiations that should go to raises must be used to pay for the rates imposed by big insurance companies. Making matters worse, the likely repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and threat to privatize Medicare could leave upwards of 20 million Americans without health coverage – creating market instability and exacerbating the health care crisis.

Even a partial repeal of the ACA could lead to $20 billion in lost California GDP, and if history is a lesson, as a result insurance companies will attempt to force working people to shoulder even more of the burden of rising costs of health care.

In California though, we have a means to hold health insurance companies accountable, thanks to a bill passed in 2015 co-sponsored by the Teamsters. This law forces health insurance companies to disclose the underlying claims (or aggregated) data used to set rates for large group health care purchasers such as Union Trust Funds and other big health plans in which Local 856 members participate. In other words, health insurance companies must justify increases with real, hard data instead of arbitrarily setting prices.

This legislation also requires a public hearing on health insurance rates, giving us a unique opportunity to stand together before elected officials, insurance companies and state regulators, to show that we’re serious about stemming the tide of outrageous rate hikes and preserving quality coverage.  We need to show big insurance the detrimental impact skyrocketing rates have had on our families. This hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 1st in San Francisco. If you’re interested in attending with us, click here for more information.