Nurses’ union blasts Calif. lawmakers for dropping single payer health care bill
Nurses demonstrate for single-payer healthcare. | RoseAnn DeMoro/Twitter

SACRAMENTO (PAI) — National Nurses United, which has been pushing single-payer government-run health care on both the state and national levels for years, is lambasting California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s decision to shelve the state Senate-passed single-payer bill, at least for now.

Rendon, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, said the bill “needed more work” before the Assembly could consider it, next year. He charged it would cost the state four times as much as the official text says, and that it has no clear way to pay for all Californians’ health care.

Rendon’s decision, announced late in the afternoon of June 23, drew blasts from NNU’s California Nurses Association affiliate both for its substance and its timing: 5 pm on a Friday.

“The people of California are counting on the legislature to protect them now, not sometime next year, and polls have shown Californians support this proposal by a wide majority,” said NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN.

The California single-payer bill, SB562, is important. The Golden State houses one of every eight people in the U.S., and the measure would cover all of them. Also, the Democratic-run state senate passed SB562 by a party-line 23-14 vote in May, directly challenging GOP attempts on the federal level to eliminate health care coverage for millions of people.

And SB562 would eliminate costly premiums, co-pays and deductibles that workers and families now must shoulder, text of the legislation says.

By contrast, the latest national GOP health care bill, crafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., would throw 22 million people off of health care rolls in the next decade, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said on June 26. One estimate says two-thirds of them would lose coverage next year.

“SB 562 was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete,” Rendon said in a statement. He said even its backers admitted it has flaws, and he alleged they include “financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB562” into law. Rendon said after sponsors fix its flaws, the measure could come back for an Assembly vote in 2018.

“A solution to this healthcare emergency could be at hand. Speaker Rendon is standing in opposition,” Burger retorted. “Announcing this decision at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon is a cowardly act, developed in secret without engaging the thousands of Californians who have rallied to enact real health care reform.”

Rendon may not be the only obstacle. The Los Angeles Times reported Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is leery of the measure’s price tag. Burger said single-payer backers, led by her union, wouldn’t give up. “Thousands of Californians have been in motion for guaranteed healthcare. They are not finished,” she declared.


CONTRIBUTOR

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Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.

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