Michael Hudson’s March 23 letter to the editor states that “unions are fighting everyone’s battle to maintain our standard of living.”

I am sympathetic to unions and joined the Maine State Employees Association out of solidarity rather than requirement during my decade of state service as a classified “confidential” state employee.

I now work for myself and am frightened by the astronomical and rising premiums I pay for high-deductible health insurance in Maine’s individual market. So three years ago, I sat down with MSEA leadership to suggest that the self-funded state employee health plan be opened to any Maine citizen willing to pay the premium.

While those premiums are hefty — reflecting the generosity of the plan and the high cost of insuring retirees — there is nothing of comparable quality and cost available in the individual and small group markets.

The union made clear to me its disinterest in opening the plan to anyone outside those currently covered (including legislators). At the national level, unions also blessed federal health care reform once taxing the value of employer-paid premiums was taken off the table.

Meanwhile, sole proprietors, small business owners and individuals who earn more than $43,319 a year were once again sold down the river and left to drown.

None of us can afford the economic and moral cost of our wildly expensive, grossly inequitable, fragmented and underperforming health-care system. I urge union members and all people of good will, conscience and reason to demonstrate a true commitment to shared responsibility, solidarity and fiscal sanity by recognizing that the time has come to sever the irrational link between health insurance and employment, and to embrace single-payer, universal healthcare in Maine as the good citizens of Saskatchewan did in 1962.

Alice E. Knapp


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