Our Death Panels: The Medical-Industrial Complex, Insurance & Big Pharma

by Maureen Cruise RN, Director, Health Care for All- LA Chapter

The Healthy California Act, SB 562, a statewide single-payer system needs all of us to fight for Health Care Justice.  Our lives depend upon it. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon decided unexpectedly to hold up SB 562 in the Assembly Rules Committee, where it has been since the Senate passed it by a majority vote on June 1st. Rendon’s action prevents SB 562 from being assigned to an Assembly committee for a hearing, effectively stopping it in its tracks.

Health Care for All – CA , in solidarity with the Healthy California coalition, considers this heavy-handed move a betrayal of the Assembly Speaker’s responsibility to the needs of all Californians for guaranteed healthcare. We suspect opposition to the bill from the healthcare industry and/or the governor has played a role in this decision. We call on every supporter of SB 562 to contact Speaker Rendon’s office and demand that the Assembly consider SB 562.

     Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the Assembly (D-63); 916-319- 2063.

Twitter: @Rendon63rd; email: assemblymember.rendon@assembly.ca.gov

     The future of the bill is uncertain. Rendon has referred to the possibility of the Senate taking the bill back and working on it more, possibly to include financing, then returning the bill to the Assembly. The bill could then become a two-year bill. An article in the Intercept today noted opposition to the bill by Governor Jerry Brown. Dr. Paul Song, a leader in the Healthy California coalition, is quoted saying he has heard that the governor “is doing everything he can to make sure this never gets on his desk.” Get your neighbors, your faith-based group, your union to take a stand for SB 562. At the end of this article is a timetable of actions you can take over the next few weeks, and the article explains why you take them, and get involved in this life-or-death struggle!

Your money or your life!

     Compare our immoral failed “pay to play” system to what has been successful in Europe for over 100 years. The US pays 2-1/2X more than the average European country for care and ranks at the bottom for access, quality, affordability and outcomes. The USA is #1 in preventable deaths with 29,000 dying last year due to lack of adequate care. There were 7,000 diabetic amputations in CA alone in 2016, often due to inability to afford medicines and treatment. Can’t pay the co-pay and deductibles? Suffer  devastating consequences, even as you pay your premiums.

Even with insurance, if you get sick you face possible medical debt, bankruptcy, foreclosures, preventable disability and needless death. Lack of portability traps people in jobs they want to leave; limited provider choice, increasing out of pocket payments, routine denials of treatment, and refusal of reimbursement plague us. Yet CA premiums rose 234% since 2002.

Billions are siphoned off for profits, CEO salaries, and lobbying. Gouging for drugs, services and facilities is rampant. Market-based incentives produce bad medicine and false economy: over-treatment for those who can pay, under-treatment if you can’t. People pay for insurance and are denied care: 45 million denials of care in CA over 9 years. The insurance companies are the real death panels.

These abuses are unknown in Universal Health Care countries. People in Europe pay less, get more, have better outcomes and don’t suffer poverty and ruined lives because someone got sick. Our system is unsustainable, insecure and unjust. Over the past 20 years, 17 studies of 14 different states have all shown enormous savings with a universal single payer system.

The Healthy California Act SB 562 is universally guaranteed health care under a single payer system. It was introduced into the state senate by Senators Lara and Atkins in and passed the Senate with 23 of 40 votes June 1. Read the Bill yourself at https://www.healthycaliforniaact.org.

SB 562 covers everyone equitably, guaranteeing the same quality healthcare for every CA resident as a right, not a privilege. It offers one Plan for all covering medically necessary care, including medical, vision, dental, hearing, and reproductive health, with freedom of provider choice; no more networks. Healthy California is accountable only to the public. Doctors and nurses, not insurance companies, work with you to decide your care. This ensures that private profit never comes before good health. It pays for all covered services, eliminating waste and containing costs. No more co-pays, deductibles, or surprise medical bills.

SB 562 is publicly funded and privately delivered medical care. Premiums and out of pocket costs are included in the Healthy California Trust Fund administered by the state, replacing thousands of insurance plans. Insurance industry profits are removed from the system. Four distinguished Political Economy Research Institute economists and researchers conducted an extensive financial study of Healthy California SB 562 demonstrating that the state, and nearly all individuals and businesses would save.

Here’s how that works. CA now spends $368.5 billion annually on healthcare. Adding 9.6% to cover un- and under-insured results in $404.1 billion. SB 562 provides an 18% reduction of current costs, $74 billion dollars savings, achieved by reducing waste in administration, negotiated Pharma rates, and more efficient delivery of services. Total cost of Healthy CA is $331 billion. $225 billion is already paid for by the public. Additional funding needed to cover everyone (40 million people) for all services would be $106 billion; on the average $220 per person per month. Current average cost is $600 per capita/month with families paying about $1,600 a month.  Businesses now average about $27,000 annually to cover an employee’s family of four with health insurance, shifting 43% of the cost to the employee.

The new revenue to cover the $106 billion for the Healthy California Trust Fund administered by the state is achieved with two very modest taxes, which would cost less than current out-of-pocket expenditures:

Gross business revenue receipts tax of 2.3% exempting the first $2 million in receipts, eliminating costs for small businesses with 9 employees or less that currently provide health benefits. Medium businesses (10-99 employees) would save 6.8%-13.4%.  Large Businesses (100-500) save 5%.

Sales Tax of 2.3%, which exempts all spending on housing, utilities, food at home, and other exemptions under current state tax code. Medi-Cal families get a 2% tax credit to offset the tax. Low-income families ($13k-36k) would save 5.5% -1.2%.  PERI Financial Analysis is available at http://www.healthycaliforniaact.org/wp-content/uploads/Pollin-Economic-Analysis-SB-562.pdf.

Financial gurus Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have endorsed single payer, citing medical costs as “the tapeworm of [US] economic competitiveness.” 52% of small-business owners identified health insurance as the most critical problem facing their businesses.

Recent polls show 81% of Californians support ensuring all Californians have affordable, accessible healthcare. 58% support SB562 even after hearing opposition arguments. The need is there. The money is there. The people are there. The plan is there. Where are the legislators?

Call Rendon and your own assembly member now.  Demand a vote for SB562, as if your life depends on it….because it does.

RECALL UPDATE from the #RecallRendon campaign. This is happening folks:  punkrockgrl@gmail.com,

UPDATE: We are planning on filing our FPPC 410 with the California Secretary of State this week. This will allow us to form a political committee, obtain an EIN, and open a bank account for the #RecallRendon campaign. We will then begin our fundraising operations.

We have not yet made a determination as to when our Notice of Intent will be filed. Once that is done and we receive the official recall petition certified by the Secretary of State, we will have 160 days for our signature drive. This is starting soon, but we are first focused on building our team so as to be ready to launch an effective and organized campaign on DAY ONE of the recall drive.

Join us in these efforts to educate and raise awareness, for healthcare is a human right.

Monday – rally at SACRAMENTO capitol noon

Monday, July 3rd, 10:15am – 11:30am

Flyering for SB562 in Torrance at Resist Rally with Kamala Harris, 1000 W Carson St, Torrance, California 90502

httpss://www.facebook.com/events/1389124424468664 Please contact Byron to help flyer this event. Byronmrla@gmail.com

July 6th,  Thursday  10am-12noon

Labor United for Universal Health Care L.A. County Federation of Labor, 2130 James M. Wood Boulevard, LA 90006. Parking is available in the lot; enter off Lake Street. We’ll be discussing our Summer Garden Party and SB 562, the Healthy California Act, among other things. In case you haven’t yet seen this, here’s a link to Dr. Paul Song’s excellent piece, “Single Payer In California? Can We Afford It? Can We Afford Not To?” that appeared on HuffPost today. Looking forward to seeing you there! Questions? Email sarah@laborforhealthcare.org


Town Hall, Saturday, July 8th,  12 PM – 2 PM

Speaker Anthony Rendon’s District (AD 63),  5720 Clark Ave, Lakewood, CA 90712-1908 httpss://www.facebook.com/events/329225010830512


July 10th,  Monday 6pm H.O.P.E. Conference Call

Dr. Ed Weisbart:  How to speak to Conservatives about National Improved Medicare for All.  Calls are open to everyone, but you must register to receive a number.  Register for the call: https://healthoverprofit.org

On the calls, we will provide political updates, educate, discuss strategy and plan actions to change the political culture in the United States so that  HR676 is the only politically viable solution.


Thursday, July 13th, 7pm – 9pm

Town Hall at Immanuel Presbyterian for Korean and Spanish Speakers, Immigrant focus

3300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90010 httpss://www.facebook.com/events/1459714327382149


July 13th, Thursday 7:30-9:30pm. Health Care for All-Los Angeles

Brainstorm Session: Share, Discuss, Strategize

SB 562 Healthy California Act Needs Us to ACT NOW!  Explore together how to present, answer tough questions, what works for people, discuss topic points, successful Q & A.

Please join us in bringing Health Care as a Human Right a step closer to realization. Eliminate premiums, copays, deductibles, control outrageous Pharma prices and reduce skyrocketing Hospital charges. SB 562 saves the state $74 billion dollars.  Individuals, families and businesses save money by implementing a system reducing waste, unnecessary administration, inefficient delivery of services and gouging by  the medical industrial complex.  Free.  All Welcome.  Light Refreshments.  PEACE CENTER –  Don White Meeting Room 3916 Sepulveda Blvd Culver City 90230. Entrance &  Parking in back lot. INFO: 310 459-9763  mcruised@aol.com.

Legislative schedule for the rest of this session:

July 3 – Rules Committee meets

July 11 – Deadline to be presented to Health Committee for consideration

July 14 – deadline to pass Assembly Health Committee, and to present to Appropriations

July 21 – Aug 21 – legislative recess

September 1 – deadline to pass Assembly Appropriations

September 15 – deadline to pass Assembly floor and Senate for concurrence

October 15 – deadline for action by the Governor

For more information, contact mcruised@aol.com, 310 459-9763, https://healthcareforall.org/chapters/los-angeles-county

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