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AFL-CIO Urges House to Approve Health Care Bill

The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, is the latest lobbying heavyweight to formally give its seal of approval to Democrats’ $940 billion health care reform legislation, urging House Members on Thursday to vote for the measure.

“Today, I made a recommendation that the AFL-CIO give our active support to the president’s health care bill and the AFL-CIO executive council overwhelmingly agreed with that recommendation,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a conference call Thursday afternoon. “After 60 years of fighting for health care reform, we’re convinced that now is the time to say, ‘yes.'”

“Now, it’s not a perfect bill,” he added, “but we’re realistic enough to know that it’s time for the deliberations to stop and for progress to begin.”

The Federation of American Hospitals, which represents more than 1,000 facilities nationwide, also endorsed the bill, whose fate remains uncertain as Democratic leaders continue to scramble for votes.

“This legislation is long overdue, and we urge all Members of Congress to vote for health reform,” President Charles Kahn III wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a March 18 letter. “The hundreds of thousands of Americans who treat patients in our hospitals understand the plight of the uninsured and the need to provide health security for all Americans.”

While organized labor and hospitals are backing the legislation, another major health care stakeholder — insurance companies — criticized the legislation Thursday.

“For health care reform to work, everyone needs to be covered and the growth in health care costs must be brought under control. Health care reform legislation that does not address underlying medical costs cannot be sustained,” Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this legislation will drive up health care costs by adding billions in new health care taxes and encouraging people to wait until they are sick before getting insurance.”

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