by Maureen Cruise, RN
You can find a broadside about Health Care for All produced by Physicians for a National Health Plan at httpss://issuu.com/news_review/docs/pnhp_042018
Apparently reporters and media pundits writing about health care proposals have not read the third paragraph in the current Assembly Select Committee report which clearly states that current “Health care spending across California from all sources totals about $400 billion”. Their mantra is ‘how can we afford $400 billion?’ We are already paying that. And yes… in the current system, we cannot afford it and have decent health care. People are in debt, going bankrupt and skipping needed treatments and medicines they cannot afford. The other very important fact that our health care is already 71% publicly funded seems to have escaped the media as well.
Nor does it seem that mainstream columnists and TV reporters alike have read the SB562 financial analysis from the Political Economy Research Institute written by well respected economists. It is readily available online at http://www.healthcaliforniaact.org resources to anyone interested in actually understanding the financing of this single payer proposal.
The overall health care savings to the state accrued in SB562 is $37 billion, a very conservative estimate, while covering everyone with quality, privately-delivered care and broadly expanded services at half the cost. Out of pocket costs to individuals of premiums, co-pays and deductibles now threatening some people with financial ruin would disappear. The funding would be replaced by a very modest 2.3% sales tax with rebates to low income residents and a 2.3% employer tax, exempting the smaller businesses. Individuals and businesses alike would enjoy immense savings.
Eliminating the for-profit multi-payer insurance system with its ever-escalating premiums, denials of care and byzantine administrative tasks, provides this savings from a system which currently siphons off one third to one half of our spending away from delivery of care into shareholder profits, unnecessary complexity, wasteful bureaucracy and exorbitant CEO salaries.
Countries all over the world spend much less and have better health outcomes than Americans. People in Europe or Taiwan or Tunisia do not experience “medical debt” or “medical bankruptcy”. No one in a single payer system dies or becomes disabled because they are denied care. No one has urgent treatment delayed or priced out of their means. No one loses their home to foreclosure or forfeits their life savings because they become ill. Yet this happens every day in the “your money or your life” tragedy of our US for profit health insurance based system.
People are suffering physically, emotionally, economically in this unequal and unjust quagmire. A financialized system means lives are commodities and some are treated as worth more than others, based on profitability. Our bodies are used as profit centers for shareholder gain. Americans are providing Wall Street profiteers “wealth care for a few” rather than “health care for all” with our tax dollars, our personal bank accounts and our lives.
How can we achieve our rights in our “pay to play” political system where corporate dollars rule the capitol and purchase the representation that should in fact be ours? Involvement! Public action. Letter writing, canvassing, phone banking, tabling with the Healthy California Campaign http://www.healthycaliforniaact.org and joining Health Care for All http://www.healthcareforall.org. Across the entire state Californians are knocking on doors every week, making phone calls every day, crowd canvassing events, vigils with signs on street corners, rallying at marches. FREE SB562!
It’s up to us to release SB562 from its confinement. Don’t hesitate to call your own assemblyperson and state senator and ask what they are doing right now to advance SB562. Urge them to publicly call for release of the Bill from the rules committee closet where it was placed by speaker Anthony Rendon. Demand that the democratic process of debating, discussing and analyzing a bill be re-instituted for this legislation. Insist that the assembly committees insert the SB562 PERI finance proposal into the bill for consideration. A simple phone call from dozens…better yet hundreds …of constituents will have impact.
It has become apparent that even some of the “co-authors” have not bothered to read the bill. Legislators rarely actually write a bill …they may sign their names to a document produced by an interest group to please constituents. They are then labeled as “authors”…a kind of institutionally accepted plagiarism. Often that begins and ends their involvement with the legislation they have signed. We are not asking politicians to “declare support” for single payer. Many, including “authors” say they do, but are unwilling to act on that statement in any tangible way. We want to know what each of our “representatives” is actually doing to secure the routine democratic process SB562 deserves. Is it on their website? Do they publicly proclaim SB562 support? Do they hold health care townhalls for constituents? Do they engage the media in SB562 advocacy? Are they lobbying fellow legislators? Or are they silent and inactive and dismissive of SB562? It is up to us to require action on behalf of a bill that would guarantee quality healthcare for the 39 million residents in the state without the restrictions, bureaucracy, networks, fees now plaguing us.
Health care was included in the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights signed by the US Government. Human rights are embedded in our personhood, not purchased. They are equal for all, not tiered to benefit some over others. These rights are collectively protected by the acceptance that human dignity is a universal good and inalienable.
Greed knows no limits. We can’t continue to survive with anything other than a single payer system. No piecemeal tinkering that continues to empower and enrich the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries will suffice. We continue to see a variety of legislation promoting ineffective band-aids for this systemic cancer, profiteering from basic human need. Supporting the status quo infrastructure of this wall street financial instrument is failing us…and we are paying for it.
Incremental approaches are not effective. No “roadmap to a future fix” will do. Enough suffering and injustice! People in the US have been battling the corporate interests opposing single payer universal health care since 1904. Single payer can happen, if we want it. It will happen, if we act to make it happen. Now is the time. SB562 is the answer. The question remains…do we really want health care justice for all enough to demand our collective rights from those we pay to “represent” us? Or are we each complacent with being denied, delayed and fleeced? You decide.
Maureen Cruise is a Registered Nurse, and Director & Co-Chair of Health Care for All- Los Angeles Chapter