Supporters call on Speaker to “Let the Legislature Legislate!”
Building on last week’s spirited action where more than 500 California residents converged on the state capitol, calling on Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to let California’s single payer healthcare bill, SB 562, move forward in the state Assembly—the campaign for the Healthy California Act will hold a follow up action in Sacramento on Monday, July 3.
“There is a healthcare emergency, both statewide and nationally, and we are calling on Assembly Speaker Rendon to stop denying democracy, and do the right thing by allowing the Assembly to vote on SB 562,” said Deborah Burger, RN and co-president of California Nurses Association (CNA). “Registered nurses and our allies are deeply concerned that we do not have the luxury to wait any longer; now is the time to provide single payer, guaranteed healthcare for all Californians.”
What: Stop Delay and Pass SB 562 Event in Sacramento
Where: South Steps of State Capitol (near 11th & N St.) Sacramento
Speaker Rendon announced his decision to put a hold on the bill at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 16, a decision that the bill’s primary sponsor, CNA, described as “a cowardly act, developed in secret without engaging the thousands of Californians who have rallied to enact real health care reform.” With 70 percent of Californians supporting SB 562 in a recent survey, the bill’s advocates say a decision to hold it shows a disconnect between the will of the people and the elected officials who should represent their interests.
“Hundreds of Californians gathered in the capital last week, with only a couple days’ notice, to demand Speaker Rendon lift the hold on SB 562,” said Burger. “That massive turnout, on a dime, clearly show that voters in this state are ready to hold our elected officials accountable for moving forward lifesaving legislation. We will gather again and again until our voices are heard, on behalf of those who have lost their health, their lives, or their family members due to a profit-driven healthcare system.
“Speaker Rendon must allow the democratic process by which a bill becomes more finalized to take place—without acting in secret, in the interests of the profiteering insurance companies, to block SB 562 before a vote can happen, and before it can move through committees. The people of California are counting on the legislature to protect them now, not sometime next year.”
Monday’s action also follows a recent protest held outside Rendon’s district office in South Gate, Calif., in which participants shared their difficulties in affording the treatment and medications they and their families need. Nurses and other healthcare providers expressed great concern for the suffering that will be caused by Speaker Rendon’s decision to delay SB 562’s consideration in the Assembly.
“I live here in Lakewood and I want to say to Speaker Rendon, please pass this bill now; our patients cannot wait for another year for this bill to be considered,” said Elizabeth Castillo, an RN at an acute care hospital in Long Beach.
“You think it’s hot enough out here? I think we need to turn up the heat on Speaker Rendon,” said CNA boardmember Sandy Reding, RN. “I’m an operating room nurse in Bakersfield and I’ve looked into the eyes of the patients on my operating room table who are facing amputation because they didn’t get adequate preventive care, because they couldn’t afford to seek earlier treatment. We need SB 562 to move forward now.”
The Healthy California Act, SB562, passed the full Senate in June after a series of well-attended support rallies and town halls throughout the state, as well as marches and a packed public Senate Health hearing in Sacramento. Advocates continued the grassroots campaign for the bill throughout the weekend, with canvassing in Assembly districts, including Rendon’s 63rd district in Los Angeles.
State Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni G. Atkins introduced the bill in February, joined by Senators Benjamin Allen, Cathleen Galgiani, Mike McGuire, Nancy Skinner, and Scott Wiener as 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.
Healthy Calfornia is a coalition of 350 organizations representing over six million Californians.