At its May meeting, the Faith in Action: Peace and Social Justice Committee voted to endorse California Guaranteed Health Care for All (CalCare). CalCare would establish a system of comprehensive coverage — medical, vision, dental, prescription drugs, long-term care and more — with no out-of-pocket expenses and full freedom of choice regarding healthcare providers. It would guarantee health care as a human right, regardless of such factors as ability to pay or immigration status. And it would be financed by increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy so that thousands of Californians would no longer become bankrupt annually by huge out-of-pocket medical costs.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Progressive Caucus recently introduced Medicare for All in the U.S. Congress. There is virtually no chance of it passing there given the current makeup of the House. Moreover, congressional representatives — Democrats and Republicans alike — are heavily influenced by large donations from insurance and big pharmaceutical companies as well as private hospital chains.
With a veto-proof majority of Democrats in the state legislature, Californians have a more realistic opportunity to win universal, single payer healthcare. While legislators from both parties are susceptible to large donations from big Pharma and insurance companies, the California Democratic Party and Governor Newsom are on record as being supportive of such coverage. Advocated for by the California Nurses Association for years and reintroduced recently by Assembly Member Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), CalCare is currently a spot bill (AB1690) holding a place for its introduction in the legislative session beginning in 2024. The bill’s number will change when it is introduced next year.
So, even with a veto-proof Democratic majority in the legislature, CalCare will require sustained public pressure to get legislators on board. We in PSJ will have information available on how you can ask your legislators to sign on to AB1690. You may also go to hc4us.org or check out this CalCare handout with links. We invite you to stop by our table after Sunday services and enlist in this life-affirming effort.