By Ben Bradford
Capital Public Radio, January 8, 2018
“Absolutely nothing has happened with the bill,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, says of the high-profile Senate measure to establish single-payer health care.
Rendon shelved the bill last year, after it passed the Senate, calling it “woefully incomplete,” because it does not specify how the state would would seek federal approval, bypass constitutional spending limits and cover as much as a $400 billion cost.
Six months later, the speaker says the status of Senate Bill 562 remains the same.
“The sponsors of the bill have sat on their hands and done nothing for the past six months,” Rendon says. “None of the authors have made any significant amendments.”
Those pointed words about the sponsor refer to the California Nurses Association, the liberal union known for flashy and no-holds-barred advocacy of its causes.
The speaker says he’s more interested in developing a universal health care proposal, which could mix government and private coverage options, rather than focusing solely on a single-payer system.
An Assembly Committee is meeting again next week to discuss universal coverage legislation.
Nurses Catch Assembly Speaker in Lie About Healthy California Bill
RNs to Rendon: “No Excuses. We’ve Done Our Job; You Do Yours.”
California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, January 4, 2018
The nearly 100,000 registered nurses of the California Nurses Association (CNA)—co-sponsors of SB 562, the Healthy California Act, which would guarantee healthcare to all Californians—strongly condemn California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s statement this week that SB 562 sponsors have “sat on their hands and done nothing the past six months.”
“Perhaps Speaker Rendon is confusing his own inaction, after undemocratically parking SB 562, with the clear, loud stand thousands of Californians have taken for months, demanding Rendon unfreeze this lifesaving bill so it can move forward,” said CNA Associate Executive Director, Bonnie Castillo, RN. “Nurses have watched our patients suffer and die for far too long, and that’s why we are unrelenting in our demand for guaranteed healthcare. We expect our elected officials to work on the bill, not breach the public’s trust by halting the normal legislative process or waste time.”
The Healthy California Act, SB 562 passed the full Senate in June and was set for consideration in the Assembly when Speaker Rendon abruptly refused to let it out of the Rules Committee. In response, RNs and other backers of the bill have rallied, canvassed and organized in support of SB 562, in a grassroots movement across the state.
SB 562 sponsor and advocate actions in the past six months include:
* Published study by expert economists at UMass Amherst, setting forth a mechanism on how to pay for SB 562
* 17 amendments proposed
* 200 canvassing events held statewide, covering all 80 Assembly districts
* 15,000 supporters gathered at in-person events across California
* 6,000 doors knocked
* 1,500 new volunteers added to canvassing efforts
* 35 district office visits conducted
* Thousands of phone calls made
* 21 more canvasses are scheduled for January, 2018 alone
“SB 562 supporters don’t have time to sit on our hands, because our hands have been too busy knocking on doors, picking up phones, opening legislative office doors, and holding up ‘Medicare for All’ signs all over California,” said CNA co-president Deborah Burger, RN. “It’s beyond insulting that Speaker Rendon would tell working people, including the nurses who have spent countless hours standing up for our patients’ right to life saving care, that WE haven’t done enough. Allowing this bill to move forward is Rendon’s job, and he needs to stop shifting blame and get to work.”
“Every day that the Assembly members keep talking about it, people get sick and die. They’re inside [the state capitol] with their suits and ties and good health care, and every day people are dying,” said RN Cathy Kennedy. “We’ve done the research, and we know that in California there is money to provide health care for all. It’s time they stop talking about it and do something about it!”
A recent survey showed that a full 70 percent of Californians favor establishing a public, Medicare for all type system providing universal single-payer health coverage. CNA also sponsored the aforementioned study by expert economists at University of Massachusetts Amherst on how to pay for SB 562—revealing that enacting the bill would save Californians $37 billion off our current cost for healthcare.
With widespread public support and a funding mechanism, nurses say Rendon’s recent comments only reveal that elected officials need to stop standing in the way of what their constituents want: guaranteed healthcare.
California State Assembly
Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage: Arambula, Wood, Chairs
Informational Hearing: Achieving Better Access and Greater Value in California’s Health Care System
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
State Capitol, Room 4202
SB-562: The Healthy California Act:
By Don McCanne, M.D.
The nature of the dispute between California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and the California Nurses Association on the status of SB-562, The Healthy California Act, a single payer bill for California, can be gleaned from the reports above.
Probably the most significant statement is the following: “The speaker says he’s more interested in developing a universal health care proposal, which could mix government and private coverage options, rather than focusing solely on a single-payer system.”
A series of informational hearings on health care reform in general is taking place now, but the Select Committee will not be able to take any legislative action. It is difficult to see how these hearings could result in any meaningful legislation for this session of the state legislature. The hearings seem to be merely a diversionary tactic on the part of Rendon.
Why this update? If any state could enact a semblance of single payer legislation, it would be California. This demonstrates the barriers we have even with supposedly optimal political alignment.
The lesson? We need a large-scale social movement in support of greater Democracy. Read Page and Gilens, “Democracy in America?” and then act on it:
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