SACRAMENTO: At least 500 health professional students, many wearing white coats and carrying signs saying, "We Are the Future of Health Care", marched up Sacramento's Capitol Mall on Monday, Jan. 11, to join with more than 500 union members, seniors and health care reform advocates in a spirited rally for State single-payer legislation.
For the past five years students have been gathering at the Capitol in January to lobby for health care for all, organized by the California Health Professional Student Alliance and the American Medical Student Association.
Led by Allen Clark, president of the 40,000 member California School Employees Association, the crowd chanted loudly "All America should beware, insurance companies just don't care," and "Decent healthcare, that's our right, We are here and we will fight," along with "What do we want? Single Payer! When do we want it? Now!"
Single payer healthcare legislation has passed the California Legislature twice in the past few years, and each time has been vetoed by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The new legislation, Senate Bill 810, the California Universal Healthcare Act, authored by state Senator Mark Leno, comes at a time when Schwarzenegger, termed out, could be replaced by a Democrat in November.
"Last year, 12.1 million Californians were without health care at some time," said Leno. "Your voice is needed in this building," he told the demonstrators.
Several other state legislators spoke, including former state Senator Sheila Kuehl, author of the two previous single payer bills. The crowd roared its appreciation of Kuehl, chanting "Sheila, Sheila, Sheila, Sheila" for several minutes.
The rally was also sponsored by the California Nurses Association, the California Physicians' Alliance, California One Care Now, and the California Alliance of Retired Americans.
Photo: Marilyn Bechtel/PW