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Single Payer Takes A Step Forward

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Health Committee voted decisively to move S.B. 562 to the floor of the Senate. The Healthy California Act would establish a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system in the state, ensuring that all Californians have access to affordable healthcare. The bill was proposed by Senator Toni Atkins and Senator Ricardo Lara as well as aided by the support of the California Nurses Association, physicians, and a coalition of progressive organizations. Over 1,000 people marched on the Capitol in solidarity. Together they helped ensure this bill moved to a vote in the senate.

“Because of the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Californians are at a historic low… But despite this incredible progress, millions of Californians lack healthcare coverage and millions more cannot afford the high deductibles and copays that often forego care,” said Senator Lara, “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it,”

But not everyone lauded this bill. The vocal critics that attended the committee hearing included none other than insurance industry lobbyists. They gave grim statements about wait times and budgetary shortfalls, failing to note, however, how dozens of other industrialized countries managed to operate similar systems with improved healthcare outcomes. When pressed for alternative solutions for America’s skyrocketing healthcare costs by committee members they offered nothing but vague platitudes. One Kaiser representative remarked, “We just need to work together to improve our healthcare system,”

RoseAnn DeMoro offered a different perspective, “The most important thing today was the breadth and depth of support by the dozens of people lining up to back the bill, representing 250 organizations across the state. These are organizers who are going to be with us to make the Healthy California Act the law of the land in California,”

If this upswell of grassroots energy and political will shows anything it’s that Californians are ready for a better way when it comes to managing healthcare costs. The road ahead will be long and arduous but if this week acts as a template for future action, then Californians are up to the challenge.

If you want to help make Single Payer a reality in California contact your state representatives using this link: http://p2a.co/U3E8IHG