Better health care for all
by Barry Hermanson
Americans can have better health care at a lower cost.
In other countries, people enjoy better health care at lower cost. Everyone has access to
health care and average life expectancy is greater. In Canada,
with its version of “Medicare for all,” no one goes bankrupt because of health care
expenses. In the U.S., health care bankrupts more than a million people every year.
Health care 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
health care because of expensive insurance co-pays and deductibles.
In a recent Kaiser poll, 81 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of all voters supported
“improved and expanded Medicare for all.” What is being done to move us in that
Active health care legislation in Washington, D.C.
A new bill in Congress, H.R. 676, adopts many of the practices other countries use to
control health care costs and provide quality service. Of the 193
Democrats in the House of Representatives, 113 are currently co-sponsors.
No Republicans support it. Only 62 Democrats were co-sponsors last year when
Barack Obama was president. Now, with a Republican president
and a Republican-controlled Congress attacking health care, 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 co-sponsors because
insurance and drug companies contribute heavily to Republican and Democratic
politicians. On the issue of health care, I believe Pelosi isn’t leading or following.
She is standing in the way. If you want better health care at a more reasonable price, call
Pelosi and ask her to co-sponsor H.R. 676. Her number in Washington, D.C. is
(202) 225- 4965 or locally at (415) 556-4862. And, ask her to endorse SB 562.
Recent health care legislation in California
In response to Republican attacks in Washington, a bill to provide health care for 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 for the movement.
The number of people who have rallied to support the bill is impressive.
From the HealthyCA.org website: “Healthy California is a campaign of more than 4
million Californians building a statewide movement to win guaranteed health care for
all California residents. We represent more than 150 community and labor organizations
made up of nurses, teachers, patients, doctors, union members, business leaders, faith
and immigrant rights communities, progressive political organizations,
health care advocates and providers.”
As this article is going to press, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon pulled
SB 562 off of the legislative calendar for this year. I believe by doing so, he is protecting
many members of the Democratic caucus who would have voted “no.”
Now, they will not have to cast a vote this year and suffer the wrath of universal
health care advocates.
The bill will be taken up again next year but, for it to pass and be signed into law, all
27 Democratic senators and 53 of the 55 Democratic members of the Assembly would
have to vote “yes.” Would Jerry Brown sign SB 562? Will it ever reach
his desk? I don’t think so.
In addition to organizing support for SB 562, it is important to have a Plan B. Universal
health care will very likely be won or lost at the ballot box in California. 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.
The only organization I know of in California that is working to identify voters who
support universal health care is Single Payer Now. Please visit the website at
http://www.SinglePayerNow.net or call (415) 695-7891 to register your support.
Health care is a human right. Together, we will win better health care at a
Barry Hermanson is the Green Party candidate for the
U.S. House of Representatives. For more information, send an
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: A film and panel discussion about single-payer
health care, titled “Now is the Time: Healthcare for
Everybody,” will be shown on Sunday, July 30, from 1 – 4 p.m.,
at the Main Library.