California State Assembly

Commentary – Barry Hermanson

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

direction?

 

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

lower cost.

 

Barry Hermanson is the Green Party candidate for the

U.S. House of Representatives. For more information, send an

e-mail to barry@hermansons.com.

 

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.

 

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