2008 promises to be an important year for Laborers, LIUNA signatory employers and most Americans. It is a Presidential election year.

As a Taft-Hartley Fund, it is not the LHSFNA’s business to endorse candidates or take positions on their programs, but we’re happy that health care reform has resurfaced as one of the most important domestic issues of the campaign.

The U.S. faces a health care crisis. Today, according to a report issued December 3 by the Centers for Disease Control, one in five Americans – more than 40 million people – say they cannot afford adequate health care. They often have to go without the drugs, medical care, eyeglasses and dental treatment that they need. As a result, their conditions worsen and become more costly to treat. People without insurance often end up at the hospital where the cost of the care is higher than for similar services in a doctor’s office and is passed along through higher rates to other patients’ insurers. Insurers then turn around and raise their rates, forcing Laborers and LIUNA signatory employers into difficult choices between higher wages or sustained health benefits.

The soaring cost and widening coverage gap of American health care coverage must be addressed, and it is up to the nation’s elected officials to find answers. While another year must pass before the next President and Congress are installed and federal action can begin, the health care reform train is finally starting to leave the station. The Presidential candidates are speaking to the issue, and a number of states and state officials are already trying to tackle the job.

To help you be a more informed voter, LIFELINES has reviewed the stakeholders and what, so far, has been learned from state efforts.

Besides voting, you have a personal obligation to do what you can to take care of your own health. In that regard, you can step up by making sure you and your family members get a physical exam and health screening this year. Early detection not only means lower cost of care but, more importantly, a better and longer life. We urge everyone to call and schedule a check-up without delay.

On behalf of the trustees and staff of the LHSFNA, we wish health, happiness and prosperity to all Laborers, their families and LIUNA’s signatory employers in 2008. We look forward to working with all of you toward a healthier society.