With California’s single-payer bill shelved, lawyers call on Newsom to take the lead in Medicare for all


As California’s latest attempt to adopt universal single-payer healthcare was put on hold this week, progressive activists have vowed to continue the fight, while pressuring embattled Gov. Gavin Newsom to keep his promise. campaign to implement a Medicare for All-style system in the country’s most populous state.

“It’s no coincidence that Bernie Sanders won the California Democratic primary with this as a major issue, and these voters are crucial to the governor’s prospects in the recall.”
—Michael Lighty,
California healthy now

On Wednesday evening, State Assembly Member Ash Kalra (D-27) announced he would withdraw Assembly Bill 1400 – the California Guaranteed Healthcare for All Act (CalCare) – from the review this year so lawmakers can figure out how to fund the ambitious measure before perhaps relaunching it next year.

AB 1400 – introduced in February by Kalra and Assembly members Alex Lee (D-25) and Miguel Santiago (D-53), and sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA) – would establish a single-payer health care system for all Californians, regardless of income, immigration or other status, while expanding health care coverage to nearly three million uninsured Golden State residents. It would also offer generous benefits, including dental visits, prescription drug coverage and long-term care.

During its introduction, Kalra said the bill “represents the belief that healthcare is truly a human right” and “will put us on a real path to a single payer system and affirm the policy that save lives, reduce suffering and improve public health. health in California. “

About 70% of Californians, and a similar percentage of people in the United States, support Medicare for All. AB 1400 has the backing of local progressive groups including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), RootsAction, the new Daybreak PAC, as well as influential figures such as single-payer activist Ady Barkan, Executive Director of National Nurses United, Bonnie Castillo, and actor and activist. Rosario Dawson.

Undeterred by the sidelining of AB 1400, single-payer advocacy group Healthy California Now called Kalra’s move “a golden opportunity for single-payer lawyers to unite behind a faster path to Medicare for All, led by Governor Gavin Newsom “.

Although seemingly a setback, Healthy California Now organizer Michael Lighty said the AB 1400 filing could actually accelerate the push for single-payer healthcare in California.

“In order to put in place a universal health insurance system in any state, you need federal and legislative approval,” Lighty said. Common dreams. “The governor is the linchpin. He can initiate discussions with the federal government that will lead to the adoption of a single-payer system, and he can motivate the legislator to act. in fact the fastest way to revive this deal. “

Newsom, a Democrat who oversaw the implementation of the city’s Healthy San Francisco program for uninsured residents when he was the city’s mayor, campaigned for the governor claiming a “firm and absolute commitment” to implement. universal health care work in California.

“We are absolutely going to do it,” he pledged in September 2017, just months after moderate Democrats, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63), joined their corporate donors and to their GOP colleagues for defeating a previous single-payer bill, even as they paid lip service to universal care.

With the darkening cloud of a recall campaign threatening every move by Newsom, the governor is moving forward cautiously. Progressives – who have supported Newsom in the recall fight – say he needs to do more to earn their support.

“Our support is not free,” warned Lee, the co-author of AB 1400, in a Politics interview earlier this month. “We should hold our elected officials accountable who say they support health care for all.”

Lee added that Newsom has “a duty to energize its progressive base.”

Slightly said Common dreams that “the recall effort provides a political justification for the governor to lead the single-payer system, because the progressive voters he needs to win the recall are motivated by this problem.”

“It is no coincidence that Bernie Sanders won the Democratic California primary with this as a top issue, and these voters are crucial to the governor’s prospects in the recall,” he added, referring to the Independent U.S. Senator from the 2020 Vermont Presidential Race.

Progressive activists have vowed to keep pushing for a single payer and keep Newsom’s feet on fire. On Monday, activists led by the DSA will travel to Sacramento, where they will hold a die-in at the State Capitol.

The Sacramento die-in will follow auto rallies across the Golden State last week, where protesters called on state lawmakers to support CalCare.

Speaking at one of the gatherings, UNITE HERE Local 11 co-chair Ada Briceno said the coronavirus pandemic “demonstrates the need for California law, more than ever, to provide health care to millions of people who have lost their health coverage [through] job losses in the state. ”

THE Progressive reports that Briceno was joined by CNA activist Stephanie Roberson, who said that “how we are organized as a movement statewide will determine our success.”

“We nurses are seeing patients unable to afford life-saving care and private companies are refusing to pay,” said Roberson. “We need to prioritize nurses and patients over profits.”

“The quickest, most direct route to Medicare for All has always been through the governor,” Healthy California Now President Cindy Young said on Friday. “Now is the time for advocates to come together and tell Governor Newsom to lead the way in Medicare for All.”



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