This is a letter submitted to The Mendocino Voice, published here as opinion, in an effort to represent the views of the community. The views stated in this letter are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mendocino Voice. This being a letter to the editor, its content has not been fact-checked independently by the Voice.
This letter to the editor was sent by Madge Strong, mayor of Willits.
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April 10, 2018
Last year the State Senate passed the Healthy California Single-Payer Health Care Proposal (SB-562), which was then forwarded to the Assembly, where you were appointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to Co-chair a “Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Health Care”.
On March 14, your Select Committee issued its final report recommending a private for profit multi payer system (like Obamacare) but with a “public option” thrown in, that will provide neither universal health care coverage nor any significant health care cost containment. Your report rejected SB-562 out of hand, essentially killing it.
I urge you to reconsider that position.
At a recent regional League of Cities meeting, you stated you favor “universal health coverage” but did not mention or endorse a single-payer approach. You gave some rationales for opposing the Senate bill. In brief:
- Constitutional obstacles on levying new taxes: Proponents of SB-562 contend that these can be readily resolved through legislation. Note that State and federal revenues needed to finance the Healthy California program would be deposited into a special “locked box” trust fund, not into the State General Fund. (References available on request.)
- Challenges of getting ‘waivers’ for federal funds: Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the federal government is required to grant waivers if the states meet all federally mandated guidelines. Although I admit this could be a challenge under the current administration, we should nonetheless move forward on it – to improve California’s health care policy and fight for California like we do on other issues such as immigration and the environment.
- Medical costs for Californians are nearly twice the entire State government budget: True, but this $370 billion in healthcare costs are already being spent. They are just split between private pay, federal and State monies. According to independent studies and public interest groups, implementing a single-payer approach under SB-562 would save an estimated $37 billion annually and have better outcomes than our current fragmented system.
- SB-562 does not spell out funding mechanisms: While true, this misses the point. The policy committee (which should have been the Health Committee you chair) goes first, setting the policy. After that, the bill would go to either Taxation and Revenue or Appropriations to look at funding mechanisms. The bill itself provides that The Healthy California Act would not be implemented until the funding is addressed.
As Chair of the Health Committee you can ask for the bill. To give it a fair hearing, you should return and renounce large campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries you have received. They clearly have their own interests at heart, while yours should be the health and well-being of all Californians.
Single payer will save money and, more importantly, lives. This may take some work, but – with your support – let’s move expeditiously in that direction!
Please let me know your response. It would certainly influence my vote in upcoming elections. I also plan to request that the City of Willits take a position in favor of SB-562