Today is a "Day of Action" for union members around the country to push
for U.S. House approval of HR 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for
America Act." The House version of health care reform may come up for a
vote as early as Friday.
A spokesman for the Washington Federation of State Employees
says he is not getting clear signals from Washington representatives
Brian Baird or Adam Smith. Greg Deveraux, executive director of the Federation, wants them to make their minds up.
"I suspect that Congressman Smith's district is more split than some of
the others, in terms of Democrats and Republicans, so he may be trying
to be very careful politically about which way he goes. I don't know
why anybody would be dragging their feet at this point."
Devereaux points out that health care has become a costly part of every
union negotiation, as well as affecting many state services. The House
bill has been controversial because it includes a public insurance
option. Labor unions have organized call-in and e-mail efforts today,
before the big vote.
On the Senate side, Deveraux says public input already has made a difference in the prospects for health care reform.
"Sen. Cantwell moved substantially from where she was initially,
because she heard from a lot of different constituents. We're trying to
do the same thing with, particularly, Congressman Smith, Congressman
Baird and others. I think all the way around, this legislation will
help their constituents tremendously."
The bill would cover 55,000 uninsured people in Smith's district, and
60,000 in Baird's district, according to a study by the House Committee
on Energy & Commerce. Congressman Baird indicates he might support
the bill; Congressman Smith says he's currently reviewing it.