We came pretty close to passing single-payer healthcare in the California legislature. But then, Democrats blinked.
In May, the state Senate passed SB 562, the Healthy California Act, authored by Democrats Ricardo Lara and Tony Atkins, the first step towards making single-payer a reality.
The bill moved on to the Assembly. And with support from unions like the California Nurses Association and the California Teachers Association – as well as other groups like Our Revolution and Physicians for a National Health Program California -- hopes were high. It seemed that with education and lobbying by California voters, the bill would also pass in the state Assembly, moving on to the Governor for his signature.
But on June 23, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon (also a Democrat) pulled SB 562, stashing it in the Rules Committee indefinitely, blocking the universal health care bill from coming to a vote.
Click here to tell Eric Bauman that as chair* of the California Democratic Party, he can show that he's serious about advocating for single-payer healthcare by applying maximum pressure on Speaker Rendon right away!
Here is Rendon’s statement in defense of his action: “The Senate was the body that raised expectations that single-payer could be created this year. So, it’s incumbent on them to follow through and fix the bill. This bill wasn’t even half-baked. It wasn’t even a bill. It was an incomplete list of principles.”
In effect, Rendon raised his hands in surrender. Instead of recognizing that California should have single-payer healthcare -- and that in his leadership position, he can do the right thing and help make that happen -- he blinked.
Three days later, on June 26, California Democratic Party Chair* Eric Bauman sent out a “Healthcare Call to Action” email message to Democrats, featuring a video of himself wearing nurse scrubs, speaking to voters across the state.
Given the timing, you might have expected Bauman to be calling for Speaker Rendon’s phone line to be flooded with requests to reactivate SB 562.
But you would have been wrong. In the video, Bauman levels justified criticism at the Republican healthcare bill and calls on us to just say no to that plan. He goes on to say, “here in California, we are already fighting for Medicare for all for everyone.” But just three days before, California’s Speaker of the Assembly Rendon had stalled that bill.
If you want to urge Eric Bauman to show that he's serious about advocating for single-payer healthcare, click here.
We were waiting for Bauman to say something like: “and your next task is to call Speaker Rendon’s office and tell him to put SB 562 back on the table.” But Bauman never said it; the silence was deafening. It is left to us to fill that silence.
Bauman was absolutely correct in the video when he said, “This is a defining moment for the Democratic Party.” It’s certainly a defining moment for the California Democratic Party. At a time when healthcare is in grave peril for millions of Americans across the country, California can be an example for the rest of the country.
Bauman put out a June 23 statement lamenting "that the Assembly will not be moving forward on single-payer, Medicare-for-All healthcare for California at this time" -- but the statement was so careful not to put any pressure on Rendon that it didn't even mention his name! Nor did Bauman’s statement indicate that any Democratic leader in the Assembly had been responsible for blocking the single-payer bill from getting out of committee. The statement from Bauman was so vague and evasive that it offered foggy cover for Rendon’s pivotal maneuver rather than challenging it.
Here are four things we can all do right now to say what Eric Bauman left unsaid about universal single-payer healthcare in California:
- Send an email to California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, firstname.lastname@example.org, urging him to tell Assembly Speaker Rendon that California Democrats want single-payer healthcare back on the table now.
- Call Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and tell him that you want SB 562 pulled out of the Rules Committee and put back into the process for a vote. Call his office at 916-319-2063.
- Contact your own member of the Assembly to request that he or she insist that SB 562 be removed from the Rules Committee and put back on track for a vote.
- Sign this petition telling Eric Bauman to use his influence to help put single-payer healthcare back on track for passage.
After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.
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-- The RootsAction.org Team
* Kimberly Ellis, Eric Bauman’s opponent in the recent election for California Democratic Party Chair, has contested the results of that election, and there have been numerous calls for an independent audit of the election, which is now under review by the party’s Compliance Review Commission.
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.
Robert H. Frank, New York Times: "Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money"