This week a bill was introduced to and passed the first committee in the California State Legislature, a bill for single payer health for California. SB562. While 45 and Ryan are trying to take health care away from Americans, our legislature is trying to broaden (and cheapen) access to ALL of our state’s citizens. Progress is a slow, painful, time consuming process and this bill did not happen overnight, the nurses of our state have been working on this for a very long time, since 1917, actually. They and Senators Lara and Atkins think the time is right to push the movement forward. I agree.
While I am grateful and happy that the ACA has provided some of my family members with health care that they would not otherwise be eligible for, it has its flaws and I have acknowledged that from the start. I have been hoping for single payer since I left Canada and moved to the United States. Like many of you I have been in the deepness of political depression and have been struggling to keep my head above water, because ultimately what choice do I have? I can’t check out, there are too many people who love me and need me and there are still so many, many things I intend to accomplish so I am here fighting against the chaos of 45. However, like Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” The summer I am talking about is the sense of purpose and encouragement I have been experiencing while working with my local activist group and working on SB562.
As I described in a previous article we determined issues that were important to our community and health care was one of the items on our list. Like casting a line into a stream, our group cast the issue of health care to the citizens in our group and we caught Donna who had a daughter.... “Well, my daughter is working with the Nurses Association and they are about to present a bill for single payer health care in our state.” And so began our county's first task- bring awareness and educate our town on the real possibility of single health care! A sub committee was formed, these people contacted their friends and family which initiated gatherings in people’s homes, our library, our local coffee shop, we were out talking with people we hadn’t met before, a Face Book page was created, phone calls made, emails bouncing through the internet; how should we get the message out? Newspaper? Town hall? Where could we have the town hall? We found that people had so many ideas and everyone knew someone who... “Well, my friend can print signs”, “I can call the hall about reservations.”, “I know a doctor who could be a guest speaker.” The train was rolling down the track and pretty soon we had hundreds of people sitting in an auditorium listening to a presentation about a new way to receive healthcare! (Apparently, even conservatives showed up, don’t worry we won’t reveal your identities. )
The next stop on health care train was our state capital in Sacramento to witness and encourage our legislatures on the first committee to proceed with the bill and get it moving through the process to becoming a law. On Wednesday, people throughout the state woke a little bit earlier, some woke up quite a bit earlier, to board a bus to take them to Sacramento, some came from Los Angeles, some from Bakersfield, big cities and small cites. On our bus we began the trip with a song from the The Who, “Magic Bus”. When we arrived in Sacramento we went to the Convention Center to have a bite to eat and listen to presentations from the nurses and from Senators Lara and Atkins on the aspects of the bill, what it would provide to citizens, how it would be funded, how dramatically behind we are in other comparable countries (but we already know that part, don’t we?) and what the process would be to get the bill from an idea to a law. And we were reminded that there would be opposition. The Suits. About 10 people lined up to oppose and they were all representing... can you guess? Yea, insurance companies. They were there to proclaim ruination and damnation to all if this horrible, awful bill is passed.
The Suits. The minority representing the opposition, trying to make sure their bosses get all the money they work so much harder for than the rest of us.
There were many more of us in support.
So many most of us could not get inside and watched the proceedings from another building......
......while some waited patiently outside.
We aren’t fooling ourselves, we know we have a long, arduous road ahead of us. We know that the insurance companies have more money than we can imagine but we have our voices. We can call, talk write, walk and march and demand. If you don’t try.... If you don’t cast your line.....