by Barry Hermanson
In other countries, people enjoy better healthcare at lower cost. Everyone has access to healthcare and average life expectancy is greater. In Canada, with their version of Medicare for All, no one goes bankrupt because of healthcare expenses. In the U.S., healthcare bankrupts more than a million every year.
Healthcare spending per person in the U.S. is $10,000, twice the average for developed countries. Obamacare increased access to health insurance and medical care but millions remain uninsured. Those who are insured frequently avoid needed healthcare because of expensive insurance co-pays and deductibles.
In a recent Kaiser poll, 81 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of all voters supported an Improved and Expanded Medicare for All. What is being done to move us in that direction?
Active healthcare legislation in Washington
H.R. 676 is a bill in Congress that adopts many of the practices other countries use to control healthcare costs and provide quality service. Of the 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives, 110 are currently co-sponsors. No Republicans support it. Only 62 Democrats were cosponsors last year when Obama was president.
Now, with a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress attacking healthcare, H.R. 676 (introduced in every Congress since 2003) finally enjoys a majority of co-sponsors in the Democratic Party caucus. Unfortunately, Democratic “leaders” like Nancy Pelosi are not cosponsors because insurance and drug companies contribute heavily to Republican and Democratic politicians.
H.R. 676 is a bill in Congress that adopts many of the practices other countries use to control healthcare costs and provide quality service.
On the issue of healthcare, I believe Nancy Pelosi isn’t leading or following. She is standing in the way. If you want better healthcare at a more reasonable price, call Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Ask her to cosponsor H.R. 676. Call 202-225-4965 or 415-556-4862 and also ask her to endorse SB 562, discussed below.
Recent healthcare legislation in California
In response to Republican attacks in Washington, a bill to provide healthcare to every California resident was introduced into the California Senate earlier this year. The Healthy California Campaign in support of SB 562 is generating a remarkable amount of new energy to the movement. The number of people who have rallied to support the bill is impressive. From the HealthyCA.org web site:
“Healthy California is a campaign of over 4 million Californians building a statewide movement to win guaranteed healthcare for ALL California residents. We represent over 150 community and labor organizations made up of nurses, teachers, patients, doctors, union members, business leaders, faith and immigrant rights community, progressive political organizations, healthcare advocates and providers.”
In response to Republican attacks in Washington, a bill (SB 562) to provide healthcare to every California resident was introduced into the California Senate earlier this year.
As this article is going to press, an initial draft of the financing of SB 562 has been submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee. A vote is due in this committee and the full Senate by June 2, with little time for debate or amendments.
Just as is the case in Washington, not every Democrat in Sacramento supports universal healthcare. Yet, passing SB 562 will require every Democrat to vote in favor, including Gov. Brown, who has been silent on this issue. Democrats could pass universal healthcare legislation this year but possibly will not.
If SB 562 passes and is signed into law by the governor, a ballot measure to repeal it would, no doubt, soon be filed by those whose profits will be impacted. Unless we are organized, it will be difficult to defeat an opponent who will spend whatever it takes to influence voters.
If SB 562 passes and is signed into law by the governor, a ballot measure to repeal it would, no doubt, soon be filed by those whose profits will be impacted.
In addition to organizing support for SB 562, it is important to have a Plan B. Universal healthcare will very likely be won or lost at the ballot box in California. To win, 5 million California voters who support an Improved and Expanded Medicare for All must be identified. Because too many politicians are influenced by political donations, the Healthy California coalition should craft an initiative for the ballot and do the hard work of identifying the voters needed to pass it.
Universal healthcare will very likely be won or lost at the ballot box in California. To win, 5 million California voters who support an Improved and Expanded Medicare for All must be identified.
The only organization I know of in California that has a goal of identifying 5 million voters is Single Payer Now. Please visit SinglePayerNow.net or call 415-695-7891 to register your support. Healthcare is a human right. Together, we will win.
Barry Hermanson is the San Francisco-based Green Party candidate for U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.