More than 100,000 members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are out every day from now until Election Day knocking on doors, talking to voters, and calling on their friends, their neighbors and their larger communities to turn out for President Obama on November 6. What drives these dedicated women and men to leave behind their work and their families, to reschedule car pools and family events and to weather all of the attendant headaches that come with it? For so many of them, it’s one very personal and profound reason: the health of our nation.
If you were to ask any of the nurses, doctors, healthcare and homecare workers of SEIU to share their reasons that Americans should vote for President Obama and vote for their health, here are some of reasons they might share:
1.) Despite the onslaught of law suits and millions of dollars spent to undermine the Affordable Care Act and President Obama, the law is working. It’s an odd thing and our members hear this at kitchen tables and front stoops all across this country. Americans may initially say they hate the law, they may say it’s a “government takeover,” but when asked about individual benefits such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, the end of lifetime caps for people faced with life-threatening illnesses, the fight to stop waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. All supported by majority of voters across parties and age groups. The hype only goes so deep.
2.) Governor Romney has a 365-word plan on his campaign website for a healthcare system that is responsible for 311,000 American lives and 14.4 million American jobs – and counting. That’s shorter than the shift notes of many of our nurses. And a clear indication to Americans that when it comes to their healthcare, “you’re on your own” and when it comes to job creation and in one of the strongest, fastest-growing sectors of our economy, let’s focus on fracking instead.
3.) No more second class health care for women. Governor Romney’s plan to repeal the health care law, defund Planned Parenthood and attempt to deny millions of women access to contraception would interfere in women’s health care decisions as well as undermine their economic security. The Affordable Care Act does more to level the playing field for women’s health and the health of their families than any law in our nation’s history. From access to birth control and maternity care, to preventive check-ups and cancer screenings, the law helps women make the best decisions for their health. As Dian Palmer of Wisconsin, a nurse for more than 25 years summed up: “We spent a decade fighting for the health reform, and now that the Affordable Care Act is working, no state government or corporation should be allowed to interfere in the personal health care decisions of women.”
4.) Medicare. Medicare. Medicare. Governor Romney’s theory that the private insurance market is going to solve the challenge of rising health care costs and strengthen Medicare defies both reason and the experience of older Americans. While the Romney campaign continues to try to scare seniors with the “716 billion dollar lie,” there is real progress underway in our Medicare system that no senior (or future senior) can afford to lose. Medicare is one of the number one topics of discussion on the doors in states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And no one is pulling the wool over seniors’ eyes when it comes to Governor Romney’s “voucher care.”
Is this election about our economy? Yes. Is it about how we can get more Americans back to work again in good jobs? Absolutely. However, as SEIU members in battleground states from Florida to Nevada can attest, these issues are not separate in voter’s minds or in the everyday reality of working families. And when it comes to comparing the track record of President Obama and Governor Romney on health care, the choice is very clear and getting clearer by the day.