June 25, 2009
My name is Arlene Holt Baker. I'm Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO and I'm speaking today on behalf of 11 million workers who are members of AFL-CIO unions.
When Congress finishes its work on national health care reform, voters will be asking one question of their elected officials: "Does this mean I will be able to get high quality health care for myself and my family at a price we can afford?" The answer, my sisters and brothers, had better be "yes."
Health care just for the wealthy will not do. Health care without strong cost controls will not work. And health care without a quality public plan option to lower costs is totally unacceptable.
As trade unionists, we know what out-of-control health care prices are doing to our contracts and our family budgets — we've been fighting the fight for affordability for many, many years.
In our brand new 2009 Health Care for America Survey of more than 23,000 people, more than half said they cannot get the health care they need at prices they can afford. A third of them have to forego basic medical care because it costs too much. Forty-three percent of those who have health insurance still can't get the care they need at prices they can pay.
Accessibility for all, high quality care and affordability are the building blocks of a new health care system for America. Nothing works without all three and affordability is the key. We demand no less, we will tolerate no less, we will accept no less.
Thank you for being here and for all that you will do in the days ahead.