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Nancy Pelosi opposes universal healthcare

May 1, 2018

by Barry Hermanson

For almost 20 years, I’ve been involved in organizing efforts to pass universal healthcare legislation in California. Reading Dan Hodges’ report: “A Background History of California Single Payer Legislation: 1998-2017” brings back many good memories. Organizing meetings, mailing parties, hundreds of endorsing organizations, rallies all over California and political campaigns. Working alongside passionate healthcare advocates to pass universal healthcare legislation – an Improved Medicare for All – has been one of the great joys of my life. However, being defeated by well funded opponents again and again has been a source of enormous frustration.

Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on healthcare Oct. 29, 2008, but not on universal healthcare, the kind that covers everybody no matter what, just like Medicare covers all seniors. Now that California puts the top two vote-getters from the primary election on the November ballot, making Barry Hermanson that challenger in November guarantees that healthcare and other issues the Democratic Party is fumbling are discussed. That’s how we make progress! – Photo: AP

Democratic Party leaders in Washington and Sacramento prioritize profit in healthcare over the needs of patients. Campaign donations from the for-profit industry keep us tied to a healthcare system that is rationed on your ability to pay for private insurance, co-pays and deductibles. After many years, I’ve come to believe that the leadership of the Democratic Party is the obstacle to achieving universal healthcare.

Over the years, tens of thousands of healthcare activists have demanded action from our legislators in Sacramento. In 2006 and again in 2008, the Democratic Party-controlled legislature passed universal healthcare legislation, only to be vetoed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He called it “socialized medicine.” No, Arnold, Medicare isn’t socialized medicine.

Then Democrat Jerry Brown was elected governor. SB 810 was introduced in 2009 and passed the Senate. In 2010, it died in the Assembly. Apparently, it was easy for Democrats to support universal healthcare when they knew a Republican governor would veto the legislation.

I began by stating Nancy Pelosi opposes universal healthcare. As one of the architects and proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), she blocked consideration of Medicare for All in congressional hearings. Single Payer healthcare advocates were arrested during Senate hearings on the ACA.

As the ACA began to be rolled out in California, support for Medicare for All in the legislature evaporated. A statewide campaign to identify a legislator to sponsor SB 810 failed. Even though Democrats held super-majorities in the Senate and Assembly, no one stepped forward to lead. The leadership of the Democratic Party, in Washington and Sacramento, did not want a debate on Medicare for All while rolling out the ACA in California.

Democratic Party leaders in Washington and Sacramento prioritize profit in healthcare over the needs of patients. 

Four years later, in January of 2017, SB 562, the Healthy California Act, was introduced by Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins. After passing out of the Senate, the Democratic Speaker of the Assembly killed it in the Rules Committee, afraid to even allow a debate.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is a leading proponent of only incremental change to our broken healthcare system, and legislators at the state level are following her lead. Sens. Lara and Atkins have stopped advocating for SB 562. San Francisco State Sen. Scott Wiener, a principal co-author, has been silent. San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu, also a co-author, parrots Pelosi’s preference to work on incremental change. Assemblyman Phil Ting, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, has said many times he would like to be a co-author of SB 562, but then raises the question: “How are we going to pay for it?”

Scott Wiener, David Chiu and Phil Ting all say they support Medicare for All. How long must we wait before these Democratic Party leaders do something to help us achieve better healthcare at a lower cost?

In many other countries, people enjoy better healthcare at a much lower cost. Why? Their countries have implemented a version of our Medicare that includes everyone, not just a portion of the population. If there are insurance companies, they are very tightly regulated and, unlike here in the U.S., drug companies must negotiate their prices.

Scott Wiener, David Chiu and Phil Ting all say they support Medicare for All. How long must we wait before these Democratic Party leaders do something to help us achieve better healthcare at a lower cost?

I’m a member of the Green Party. Support for Medicare for All is in our platform. It isn’t in the platform of the Democratic Party.

San Francisco voters will see my name on the June 5th primary ballot for Congress along with Nancy Pelosi and five other challengers. Two of us will move forward to the November election. Nancy Pelosi will be one. I’m working so that I can be her only opponent. I want to be the candidate in the election advocating for better healthcare at a lower cost.

I’m a member of the Green Party. Support for Medicare for All is in our platform. It isn’t in the platform of the Democratic Party.

If you know San Francisco voters, ask them to vote for better healthcare. Vote Green on June 5th.

Barry Hermanson is the San Francisco-based Green Party candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, the seat Nancy Pelosi now holds. Visit his website, barry4congress.org, and email him at Barry@Barry4Congress.org.

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