Green Party of California condemns Democratic Party ‘betrayal’ for shelving of Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, AB 1400

“Let’s be clear – passing Medicare for All is a racial justice issue,” wrote Black Lives Matter in a statement endorsing Medicare for All. As the organization states, Black people and especially Black women have historically been and continue to be subject to a medical apartheid in the U.S., with substandard care and unequal access and expectations – in contrast to the care and standards white and other people are given. The shelving of AB 1400 is yet another betrayal by the Democrats, who say the state is unprepared. The delay means lawmakers can spend more money on focus groups and committees working out how to somehow allocate funding for such an “ambitious” bill as AB 1400, as opposed to just honoring the needs of Black, Brown and poor Californians.

by Barry Hermanson and Laura Wells, Green Party of California

Sacramento – In a stunning betrayal of Californians, lawmakers in Sacramento delayed until 2022 the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, Assembly Bill 1400. The Green Party of California aligns with a growing majority of Californians and many coalition partners in condemning this decision by the lawmakers. 

“Universal single-payer healthcare lies at the heart of the Green Party of California healthcare platform,” said Barry Hermanson, long-time single-payer advocate and member of the GPCA Coordinating Committee. See “Big Pharma” and “Universal health care: California tries again.”

“The pandemic has shown us the weakness of the current privatized health care system,” said Hermanson. “Four years ago, Sacramento floated then sank a healthcare bill, and they gave the same excuse: needing to figure out the financing. We already know this bill will not only save lives but also save money in the long run. What did Sacramento do in four years? Nothing but lip service, even while facing a global pandemic.”

Nearly three million Californians have no health insurance and millions more have insurance they can’t afford to use because their copays, premiums and deductibles are too high and continue to rise. Polling shows that roughly 55 percent of registered California voters either somewhat or strongly agree that a single-payer program “would improve the nation’s ability to respond to disasters and pandemics such as COVID-19.”

“Elected leaders in California have no excuse not to take AB 1400 and run with it,” said Laura Wells, Green Party of California spokesperson.

She added, “California has what is called a Democratic super trifecta, with the governor’s seat and super-majorities in both houses of the legislature. Gov. Newsom ran on supporting single payer during his campaign in 2018. Now, especially with the COVID crisis, is the time to pass guaranteed healthcare for all Californians.”

In January 2021, GPCA endorsed a petition to ask Gov. Newsom to begin fulfilling his promise of implementing single-payer in California by requesting the necessary federal Medicare waivers from the Biden administration in its first 100 days. The governor has not yet made this request. 

“While an estimated 68,000 Americans die each year from the lack of access to care, insurance companies are reporting record profits. This year the losses are off the charts with nearly a third of all COVID deaths linked to lack of health insurance.”

The CalCare program would provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state regardless of employment, income, immigration status, race, gender or any other considerations.

As stated in the AB 1400 bill text: “Billions of dollars that could be spent on providing equal access to health care are wasted on administrative costs necessary in a multi-payer health care system. Resources and costs spent on administration would be dramatically reduced in a single-payer system, allowing health care professionals and hospitals to focus on patient care instead.”

The U.S. spends more per person on health care than any other nation in the world, yet the U.S. ranks last compared with six comparable industrialized countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom) in quality, efficiency and equity,

“While an estimated 68,000 Americans die each year from the lack of access to care, insurance companies are reporting record profits. This year the losses are off the charts with nearly a third of all COVID deaths linked to lack of health insurance,” said Dr. Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential nominee and a physician advocate for healthcare justice since the 1990s.

She adds: “Healthcare is not a partisan issue nor a matter of progressive vs. conservative politics. Access to free, high-quality healthcare is a human rights issue. A supermajority of Americans are demanding it and it’s only the corruption of big money in politics that stands in our way.”

Barry Hermanson is a Green Party of California Coordinating Committee member, GPCA representative to Healthy California Now, a statewide coalition of organizations and activists dedicated to establishing a single-payer Medicare For All system in California, and a former small business owner. Contact him at Barry@Hermansons.com or 415-255-9494 or write to him via the Bay View.

Laura Wells is spokesperson for the Green Party of California. She can be reached at 510-504-4254 or lwells@cagreens.org.