By Angela Hart
The Sacramento Bee, August 28, 2018
A group of influential, deep-pocketed business and health care organizations that have long helped shape the legislative agenda in California have joined forces to oppose any future effort to craft a universal, single-payer health care system for the nation’s largest state.
The main focus of the coalition, called “Californians against the costly disruption of our health care,” is to kill any single-payer health care bill in the state Legislature, said Ned Wigglesworth, a political strategist for the coalition.
“As long as proponents plan to bring this back time and again, we think it’s important to have a strong, unified presence to oppose it,” Wigglesworth said, referring to Senate Bill 562, the 2017 single-payer bill pushed by the California Nurses Association that was shelved last year by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
The anti-single payer coalition includes powerful groups representing the interests in Sacramento of doctors, hospitals, insurers and businesses. Instead of single-payer, the coalition is expected to press for alternatives, which could include several legislative proposals on health care that failed this year and some under discussion, including expanding state insurance subsidies, allowing undocumented adults to sign up for Medi-Cal and creating a state-based individual mandate for everyone to have coverage.
“I think you’re going to hear our messaging loud and clear,” said Charles Bacchi, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans. “It’s going to be really focused around how expensive (single-payer) would be for California to do, and how disruptive it would be for people who currently receive health care coverage.
Partnership for America’s Health Care Future:
By Don McCanne, M.D.
The coalition, “Californians against the costly disruption of our health care,” is basically a group of vested interests and their agents, with power and money, that intends to wipe out the single payer movement in California. A national coalition, “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future,” has even more power and more money and intends to snuff out the single payer Medicare for All movement throughout the United States.
The good news is that this shows that the Medicare for All movement is viewed as a very real threat to the sponsoring organizations, which shows how effective the single payer advocates have been to date. The bad news is that power and money can extinguish our flame.
What can we do? We may not have the money but we can harness the power of the people by continuing to do what we have been doing to bring the single payer Medicare for All movement to the forefront, but we need to do a lot more of it. Education, coalitions, grassroots efforts, community organizing, creating a presence everywhere using the spoken and written word, networking with our families, friends, associates, religious and civic institutions, and more. We need to be there and do it, and bring others with us.
These coalitions that intend to defeat single payer will try to present a positive front by offering expanded programs under our existing dysfunctional and fragmented system, but that will only perpetuate the waste and inequities, thus perpetuating the health care injustices that permeate our system, not to mention that such an approach is uniquely by far the most expensive model of health care reform the world has ever known. This can only perpetuate and compound the problem of lack of affordability of health care that is tormenting us in the United States.
Our message resonates much better: include everyone for life, providing free choice of physicians, hospitals and other health services and products, simplify the financing system to reduce the profound administrative waste unique to the United States, establish fair prices that are adequate to support the system while preventing gouging, and fund the entire system equitably such that each person pays his or her fair share based on ability. Thus our simple message is that all of us receive the health care we need, and none of us suffers financial hardship as a result.
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