SACRAMENTO — Healthy California Now, a coalition of more than 60 health care, labor and community organizations on Sunday endorsed AB 1400 (Kalra) ahead of a key hearing Tuesday in the Assembly Health Committee.
AB 1400 would create a single-payer healthcare system in California that would be akin to Medicare. Under the bill, health care would be financed through a single, public program rather than the fragmented patchwork system California has now, providing billions in savings by reducing bureaucracy.
“All Californians deserve a healthcare system that will deliver the care they need in a timely and compassionate way without having to worry about expensive medical bills,” said Healthy California Now President Michael Lightly. “The growing support for AB 1400 reflects the reality that our current healthcare system is cruel and wasteful. Californians will pay less and get much better health care with a Medicare for All system that would deliver care based on the clinical judgment of medical professionals rather than the bottom line of insurance companies.”
AB 1400’s scheduled hearing in the Assembly Health Committee comes just a few weeks before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Healthy California for All Commission is expected to release a report that will describe how California can establish a single-payer Medicare for All system that provides high quality, comprehensive care for all Californians.
An independent financial analysis conducted for the commission found that transitioning to Medicare for All would save California taxpayers up to $496 billion in healthcare spending over the next 10 years.
“California can’t afford not to implement Medicare for All, and Californians can’t risk their health during an ongoing pandemic knowing that many of their neighbors can’t afford to see a doctor,” Lighty said. “If there’s anything that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that you’re only as safe as the person next to you in the checkout line.”
While legislation and ultimately, a ballot measure will be critical components of achieving Medicare for All in California, many of the details will need to be worked out between the Newsom and Biden administrations in waivers allowing California to use federal healthcare funds already flowing to California to support a publicly-run Medicare for All system.
The upcoming report from Governor Newsom’s Healthy California for All Commission is expected to specify building blocks for such waivers that will be complementary to the health care system framework set forth in AB 1400.
These waivers are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, led by former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is a long-time supporter of Medicare for All.
“Everything’s coming together for California to lead the nation toward Medicare for All,”said Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, whose executive board on Saturday also endorsed AB 1400. “The momentum is growing because workers are sick of dealing with insurance companies that raise costs, limit care and force people to fight for care that could save their lives.”
Healthy California Now urges everyone to call their legislators now and tell them to pass AB1400 this year so that we can move quickly on implementing a comprehensive healthcare system that works for all Californians.