By William Welsh
SB 562, the “Healthy California Act,” would provide single-payer healthcare for all Californians. It would eliminate the private, for profit insurers, so there would be no more high insurance premiums, deductibles, or out of pocket expenses. The bill’s authors are Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). The bill’s principal co-authors are Senators Galgiani and Weiner. Here is a list of benefits that the bill has to offer:
- Primary and preventive care
- Prescription drugs
- Emergency care
- Mental health services
- Pre and post-natal care
- Laboratory and diagnostic services
- Surgical and rehabilitative care
- Ambulance services
- Translation and interpretation services
- Transportation to and from the doctor or hospital
- Case management
- Adult day care
- In home care
- Up to 100 days of skilled nursing
- Alcohol and drug rehab
- Blood products
- Chiropractic care
This list of benefits is quite impressive to say the least. The bill passed the senate 23 to 14, with most Democrats voting in favor. But on Friday evening, June 23rd, Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon put a hold on SB 562. I tried calling his office several times, but his voicemail box was full, so it could not receive any more messages. I then emailed him, and then on the next day I received a canned reply from his office stating that he values input from the citizenry. If you are so inclined, here is Assembly Anthony Rendon’s contact info:
On Wednesday, June 28 and Monday, July 3rd, members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) and I were up in Sacramento lobbying in support of SB 562 in hopes that we could convince Assembly speaker Rendon to change his mind. On the 3rd, I attended the Assembly ways and means committee hearing. It was the shortest meeting that I’ve ever been to, lasting less than a minute. Next, we attended the state legislature while it was in session. At one point, several woman displayed a banner, but security attempted to take it away. One of the woman struggled and refused to give up the banner. She was escorted out of the assembly chambers in short order, but was not placed under arrest. It was at that point, that we all left the chambers.
Later we spoke about the incident, and she relayed to me that after her emotional pleas, the security officer relented, and gave back her banner. Right after the incident occurred, I shouted at the same security officer, “You will not violate my constitutional right to free speech!” As I was saying this, the officer remained motionless, and uttered not a word to me at all. In hindsight, I think the officer agreed with me and was sympathetic to our cause but was simply following orders from above.
We then all gathered in the capitol rotunda where there was loud and boisterous chanting and displaying of banners in support of SB 562 and proceeded to Assembly Speaker Rendon’s office, which was down the hallway adjacent to the rotunda. There we chanted and sat in at the entrance to his office for several hours. Not once did he come out to address our concerns, all the while, people were filing in and out of his office.
At around two thirty in the afternoon, we all began to disperse, shouting “We will be back!” On the bus back to Oakland, we were told that a live video stream on Facebook from Healthy California had received over one hundred thousand hits just in the first two hours.
We made it back to Oakland, and from there we traveled by car back to Santa Cruz, by which time we were all totally exhausted. This was the second trip that I made up to the state capital in less than a week. I don’t know if we had an impact on the outcome of SB 562, but our voices were definitely heard.
More information about SB 562: www.healthycaliforniaact.org/home/