On Saturday, July 9, IEB and Indivisible SF members attended a Single Payer Town Hall in Larkspur on the subject of Senate Bill 562, The Healthy California (HC) Act, also known as single-payer healthcare. The Town Hall was hosted by State Senators Mike McGuire (SD 2) and Ricardo Lara (SD 33), State Assemblymember Marc Levine (AD 10), and Larkspur Supervisor Judy Arnold; a panel of experts included local physicians, the President of the California Nurses Association, Deborah Burger, and the Executive Director of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Jodi Reid.
In his opening remarks, Senator Lara, one of the authors of the bill (the other is Senator Toni Atkins, SD 39), shared three basic tenets of universal health care: (1) health care is a human right, (2) everyone gets to pick healthcare providers of their own choice and (3) care is determined by the patients and their health care provider. Senator Lara was clear that universal health care would be good for Californians: it would cover all residents, including those currently un- or under-insured, and would save the state about $37 billion a year.
After opening remarks from the hosts and the panel, the floor was opened up to questions from the lively and knowledgeable audience of about 300-400 local residents, and some who came from as far away as the South Bay. Questions were wide-ranging and included hot topics such as the role of Medicare (Healthy California will act as supplemental insurance for Medicare recipients); how will we pay for it (about 70% of funds will come from existing federal, state and private resources); and mental health coverage (Healthy California will fully cover all necessary mental health care needs). One major concern of the audience was the fate of the bill now that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (AD 63) has held the bill in the Assembly Rules Committee, claiming that the bill is “woefully inadequate.” Assemblymember Levine reminded the audience that the authors of the bill can add an urgency clause at any time to avoid the restrictions imposed by the legislative timetable and keep the bill from dying in committee.
The panelists continued to answer audience questions well past the planned two hour debate to accommodate all who wished to be heard.
Watch the California State Democrats’ video of the Town Hall.