Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coalition against Privatization

Friday April 25th 6:30pm
339 Lafayette Street Buzzer #7
(718) 869-2279 or noprivatization@yahoo.com

In December 2007 GHI & HIP filed an application with the NY State Superintendent of
Insurance to "convert" itself into a for-profit company. Conversion is a different way to
say privatization. If approved, this privatization would expose 4 million GHI/HIP policy
holders to the hazards of for-profit healthcare (premiums have increased more than 80%
in the last seven years). Included in this pool are more than 500,000 city workers (retirees
included) who will face a mega-corporation that is able to raise premiums at will, restrict
access to care, increase CEO salaries and favor the accumulation of profits over

To date, mainstream politicians have provided little resistance. Democrats from New York
City to Albany have lined up with Republicans. They hope to cash in on the billion-dollar
liquidation of GHI & HIP assets as part of privatization. The leaders of the city's trade
unions have also spoken in favor of the privatization thereby placing a short-term payout
ahead of the long-term interests of members.

Oddly enough, only Mayor Mike Bloomberg, normally a reliable friend of big business, has
dissented. Bloomberg's budget office calculated that 93% of the city workforce is covered
by GHI & HIP. This means that a 1% increase in premiums would cost the city $27.5
million dollars. This would, in turn, set off a struggle between city hall and the unions as
the mayor attempts to pass along the pain.

Several healthcare rights groups including NY Healthcare for All, Healthcare Now, the
Private Health Insurance Must Go! Coalition (PHIMG) and Physicians for a National Health
Program have also publicly dissented. PHIMG, the Independent Community of Educators (a
caucus of educators in the UFT) and the Socialist Party USA have passed resolutions
condemning the privatization and calling for public actions.

The potential of building a movement against privatization was displayed on January 29th
as more than 300 people flooded into a hearing organized by the Superintendent of
Insurance. The vast majority of speakers, mostly retired teachers, administrators and
transit workers, spoke against the privatization. However, little activity has taken place
since then.

It is now time to take the next step. The Coalition against Privatization will act as an
umbrella group to develop a grassroots campaign against GHI/HIP privatization.
Participation in the coalition will be based on two points:
1) No privatization of GHI/HIP
2) Healthcare is a Human Right

Time is of the essence. The chaos caused by the Spitzer resignation has given us some
time to organize. However, in one of his final acts as governor, Spitzer approved the
"conversion." Thus, the Superintendent of Insurance has final approval and the application
sits on his desk.

The first act of the Coalition was proposed at the April membership meeting of PHIMG. On
May 9th at 4:30 pm we will organize a march from the Manhattan office of the
Superintendent of Insurance to HIP headquarters. The first meeting to organize this
march, and further actions, will take place on Friday April 25th at 6:30 at 339 Lafayette
Street buzzer #7. All groups and individuals are welcome.

An organizer can be contacted at (718) 869-2279 or by email at

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