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Unveiled – SB 562: The Healthy California Act Path to Comprehensive Coverage for All Californians

California Nurses Association Press Release, 3/30/17

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CNA RNs rally for SB 562 in Sacramento in late February

All California residents will be guaranteed health coverage with comprehensive health services offered at minimal out of pocket costs and real patient choice of where to go for care under a bill that will begin its legislative review in mid-to late April in the California State Senate.

With the California legislative counsel completing its initial review, text of SB 562, the Healthy California Act, introduced by State Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, was released today. Senators Benjamin Allen, Cathleen Galgiani, Mike McGuire, Nancy Skinner, and Scott Wiener are co-authors.  

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.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the sponsor, working with the Healthy California Campaign for the Medicare for all-type bill.

Read the text of the bill at: 

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB562

In the wake of defeat of the draconian bill by House Republican leaders and the White House to repeal and replace 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 soon.

Nurses say the Healthy California Act, which is a state-based version of a Medicare for all type system, 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.

“At a time of critical uncertainty in our national healthcare system, California can once again lead the nation,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of CNA and NNU. “This bill will set a standard in America and be a catalyst for the nation.”

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, 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.

The bill, say nurses, presents a huge boon for California patients and families, with an end to fears of medical bankruptcy due to un-payable medical bills or skipping needed care, at great threat to one’s health, coupled with the societal benefit of lowering overall health costs and insuring a healthier state and population.

“Finally, a humane healthcare system based on patient need, not corporate profiteering off the most sick and most vulnerable of our people,” says CNA/NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, RN. “Every Californian will be able to get care, where and when they need it. This is what real patient choice means, and it’s what California is going to deliver.”

A new Healthy California Board, an independent public entity subsuming the role now played by Covered California, would administer and implement the Act, coordinating the various funding sources and allocating payments to providers for the medical care that patients need. A broad Public Advisory Committee, including health care professionals, will advise the Board.

Nurses, other healthcare activists, young people energized by the Bernie Sanders campaign and by the desire for progressive social change, have already been mobilizing across California with town halls, rallies, and other support actions for SB 562.  

“There has been a seismic shift in our political system through grassroots activism; we have an inspired, motivated base that will make its voice heard,” DeMoro said.

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