September 3, 2010
By now most of you have heard the disappointing news that our bill, SB 810, the California Universal Health Care Act, was held on the Assembly Floor on the last night of session, effectively killing the measure until next year. Over my strong objections, Assembly leadership decided to hold the bill. Although we are greatly disappointed, we are determined to come back even stronger next year.
I want to thank and recognize the work of the California School Employees Association and California Nurses Association who worked hard to lobby members all year. I also want to recognize Health Care for All, California Physicians for a National Health Plan, Single Payer Now, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Health Professional Student Alliance, League of Women Voters and the other dozen organizational members of our statewide alliance. Most importantly, I thank the thousands of advocates who made phone calls, requested meetings, attended rallies, and sent letters, faxes and emails, making it clear to legislators that the single payer health care movement is vibrant, strong and growing larger every day.
Our movement has always acknowledged that it is founded on a long-term vision and strategy. This setback does not change our work, it only emboldens it. For decades we have found the courage to speak out for single payer, even when others around us told us that now is not the right time. We have learned that fear and hesitation can only be overcome by courage and commitment – something with which our movement is rich. That is how we have come so far, and that is why we will win.
Without question, I commit to reintroducing this bill again next year, and to work ever harder with you to achieve the only real solution to our health care crisis – Medicare for All.
I encourage you to begin our work today to ensure the passage of this bill next session. Now is the time to educate your current representatives, and those who are seeking office, about the need for single payer universal health care and to ask for their support. More importantly, now is the time for you to educate your co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members about why their elected officials should take a strong stance in support of Medicare for All.
We’ve always said that the closer we come, the harder our work will become. So often, it’s “two steps forward, one step back.” Let this temporary detour enliven us to work even harder to see single payer become a reality in California. With term limits, it is clear that each new class of representatives needs to be educated and reminded of how important this issue is to our state. Next year will bring a new governor and a new legislature – and consequently, new opportunities and challenges. To win, we must come closer together as allies, fight smarter, and work even harder.
As the author of SB 810, I believe deeply in you, this cause and this movement. Until every Californian has health care and no family faces medical bankruptcy, we will not be deterred. Until our state budget and entire economy are no longer being swallowed by health care costs, we will not cease. Until we have “Medicare for All,” we will not stop fighting. We’re the fastest growing grassroots movement in America, and we will win universal health care. Let’s dig deep, redouble our efforts and get back to work.
Senator Mark Leno