California Needs SB 562 to Guarantee Health Care For All

Single payer supporters
Supporters of single-payer health care march to the state Capitol, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Amid attacks by the Trump administration and Congress on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid that will further drive up costs for care and push more people out of health coverage entirely, California legislators should stop talking about universal coverage and act.

Senate Bill 562, to guarantee health coverage for all Californians, and eliminate the high premiums, deductibles, and other costs that force far too many to skip needed care, has already passed the state Senate and could be taken up in the Assembly immediately.

Nurses and other health activists have been knocking on doors and talking to thousands of Californians from San Diego to the Oregon border about Senate Bill 562 and found overwhelming support for action on the bill.

Today, 15 million Californians remain with no health coverage or pay for insurance they can’t use due to the escalating costs.

A Kaiser Health tracking poll last year found that 43 percent of adults with insurance can’t afford their deductibles. Among those who struggle to pay medical bills, 73 percent cut spending on household items, 61 percent have used up all or most of their savings.

It’s about to get worse. Covered California last fall approved premium increases of 12.5 percent. And now health policy analysts predict insurers will use the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate as an excuse to demand additional double-digit premium hikes this year. It all works for health insurance giants, which are making huge profits in California, $27 billion from 2011 to 2016.

The only barrier for urgent action is an intransigent Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who has petulantly refused to do his job, blocking public hearings and any amendments on the bill.