NYSUT”s Health Care Professionals Council began the new year dealing with the grim news of what health care could look like with repeal of the Affordable Care Act; or, if Medicaid gets transferred to block funding.
Not only will these changes harm the people who have been covered by these types of health care, it reduce funding in schools, hospitals and institutions. It will affect the social workers, psychologists and care givers who work with people, said Paul Pecorale, NYSUT vice president who oversees health care.
“Repeal of the ACA will affect 20 to 30 million Americans; certainly our members and their families,“ said Pecorale.
The New York State Labor-Religion Coalition reports that 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose coverage if the ACA is repealed.
“November 8 happened and this is all front and center,” Pecorale told the roomful of health care professionals, including school counselors, dental faculty, hospital nurses, a speech therapist, psychologist and a school nurse. “These are serious concerns. They are concerns permeating our national, statewide and local governments, organizations and unions.”
New York is also dealing with the challenge of the corporatization of the health care system, said Anne Goldman, chair of the Health Care Professionals Council and UFT vice president for non-Department of Education members.
“What we know is what we represent and stand for,” said Goldman. “It’s about refining who we are and what we are.”
The Women’s Marches that took place all over the world last Saturday -- in response to threats to women’s rights, health care rights, the rights of LGBQT, immigrant rights and much more under the Trump regime – “was a powerful day embodying a movement and a culture,” said Goldman.
If the tasks ahead seem daunting, Goldman recommended looking for inspiration to the spirit of the recently deceased Sonia Basko, a former president of the Penfield TA and a NYSUT staff member who recently began working with the council.
Goldman said Basko, who was undergoing treatment for cancer, texted her three days before she died, promising that she’d be back.
“That didn’t happen,” Goldman said. “But that woman didn’t lose sight. Her vehicle was the union. Given that, who here can be tired or weary?
“Nobody gets to rest here. We’re all part of the solution,” Goldman said.