April 18, 2017 – Hundreds of registered nurses and community activists will rally in Sacramento Wednesday, April 26 as the legislative journey begins with the first hearing on a bill to guarantee health care for all California residents with comprehensive health services and an end to out of control co-pays and deductibles.

SB 562, the Healthy California Act, would establish an improved Medicare for all-type system in California, will be heard by the Senate Health Committee. Full details of the bill may be viewed at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB562

Prior to the hearing, RNs, members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, and community will gather for a rally and training on SB 562 at the Sacramento Convention Center followed by a colorful march to the State Capitol for the hearing.

State Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins introduced the bill, joined by Senators Benjamin Allen, Cathleen Galgiani, Mike McGuire, Nancy Skinner, and Scott Wiener as co-authors. CNA is the primary sponsor of the bill, joined by the Healthy California Campaign http://www.healthycaliforniaact.org/

Assembly Members Rob Bonta, David Chiu, Laura Friedman, Ash Kalra, Kevin McCarty, Adrin Nazarian, Mark Stone, and Tony Thurmond are also co-authors of the bill.

Scheduled for Wednesday, April 26

Rally/training on SB 562- 10:30 a.m., Sacramento Convention Center. 1400 J St, Sacramento. Speakers will include Sen. Atkins and (invited) Sen. Lara, as well as CNA leaders.
March to State Capitol – 12:15 p.m.
Senate Health Committee Hearing – 1:30 p.m., Room 4203, State Capitol

With ongoing uncertainty regarding the fate of the Affordable Care Act, interest is surging for real solutions to the persistent healthcare problems that face tens of millions of Americans, heightened by the announcement last weekend that Sen. Bernie Sanders intends to introduce a Senate Medicare for all bill.

Nurses say the Healthy California Act could become a national model for how all states can act to address the ongoing emergency of individuals and families threatened by high out of pocket costs, inadequate access to coverage, and restrictive insurance networks.

Key features of SB 562 include:

  • Every Californian eligible to enroll, regardless of age, income, employment or other status.
  • No out of pocket costs, such as high deductibles and co-pays, for covered health services
  • Comprehensive coverage, including hospital and outpatient medical care, primary and preventive care, vision, dental, hearing, women’s reproductive health services, mental health, lab tests, rehab and other basic medical needs
  • Lower prescription drug costs
  • Long term care services provided under Medi-Cal continue, and will be expanded with an emphasis on community and in-home care
  • No narrow insurance networks, one medical card, real patient choice of provider
  • No insurance claims denials based on corporate profit goals
  • Funding through a consolidation of resources currently spent on health coverage, including federal payments for Medicare and Medicaid (Medi-Cal), major savings from elimination of insurance waste, other bureaucracy, and profits with coordinated planning on health resources, and added revenues through a progressive tax mix.

California businesses would also see major savings, as workers would no longer be dependent on their employers for health coverage with the rising costs so endemic to a profit-first system. Workers would gain by not facing limits on employer-sponsored plans and the escalating cost shifting for premiums and other health costs that have been steadily increasing in recent years.

CNA/NNU has commissioned a major finance cost study that will be available in time for a later legislative hearing, before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

A sweeping series April 8 in The Lancet “America: Equity and Equality in Health” offered multiple reminders of the need for major healthcare reform as represented by SB 562. For example:

  • The life expectancy gap between rich and poor Americans has been widening since the 1970’s with the difference between the richest and poorest 1% now at 10.1 years for women and 14.6 years for men.
  • Average deductibles for people in employer paid health plans averaged $1,478 in 2016, an increase of up to five times over 2006. In ACA exchanges, the deductibles are typically even higher, $3,064 in the most common, silver plans in 2016.
  • Children aged 5-18, whose parents had higher co-pays, have a 41 percent greater risk of asthma related hospital admissions than for children with lower co-pays.
  • 34 percent of insured Americans who have difficulty paying medical bills are unable to pay for food, heat or housing; 15 percent took out high interest pay day loans, 42 percent took on extra jobs or worked additional hours
  • Despite ACA restrictions on insurance abuses, insurers continue to find ways to discriminate against the sick, for example, tailoring benefit packages and provider networks to discourage high cost patients from choosing or remaining in their plans, and limiting network choices to exclude providers that specialize in critical services such as cancer care.
  • Among a growing list of SB 562 endorsers: California Labor Federation, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, California Teachers Association, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, California School Employees Association, Consumer Federation of California, California Federation of Teachers, California Physician Alliance, Berkeley City Council, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California, Democratic Women of Orange County, Business Alliance for Healthy California, Chinese Progress Association-San Francisco, Health Care for All-Los Angeles, Communication Workers of America District 9, United Steel Workers Locals 675 and 2801, Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, Courage Campaign, Long Beach Gray Panthers, Musicians Union Local 6, Musicians Union Local 6.