Pressure is building on two Democratic state Senators on the Senate Health Committee to get them to change their minds on the single payer healthcare bill, SB 810. The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the committee this Wednesday after being postponed from last week. Committee chairperson Sen. Ed Hernandez (Los Angeles) is publicly saying he has not decided how he will vote on the bill, while Sen. Michael Rubio (Fresno) has said he will vote “no.” If Hernandez also votes no, SB 810 will have died in the state Senate for the first time after having successfully passed the chamber the last three years. Last year, SB 810, sponsored by San Francisco-area state Sen. Mike Leno, passed the state Senate, but died in the Assembly.

The liberal grassroots advocacy group, Democracy for America, has sent out an alert to its membership calling on them to flood Hernandez and Rubio’s offices with phone calls:

On Tuesday the Vermont Senate passed a bill that puts the Green Mountain State on the path to a single-payer health care system, and next week California’s Senate Health Committee has the same opportunity on May 4th. However, two Democratic senators could keep it from passing.

We’ve come too far for this bill to fail now. Can you call them and ask them to vote yes?

The Chair of the Health Committee, Senator Ed Hernandez, who voted for the single-payer bill as an Assemblymember is undecided. Call him now and tell him that a ‘yes’ vote is a vote for California’s future. Even if you don’t live in his district the stakes are too high and he needs to hear from you. You can reach his Sacramento office at: (916) 651-4024

After your call, click here to let us know if he’s decided how he will vote.

Newly elected Senator Michael Rubio represents the same district as former State Senate Majority Leader, Dean Florez, who co-sponsored the bill the last time it was introduced, but Senator Rubio says he will oppose this legislation. Can you call Senator Rubio right now and tell him that his constituents want a single-payer system? His Sacramento office number is: (916) 651-4016

Then let us know what his office says about how he will vote.

The California Democratic Party includes a single-payer plan in its platform. We are counting on these Democrats to vote with their party. California is counting on these Senators to vote the right way — it’s a moral imperative to provide Californians with the care they need.

Thanks for everything you do.

– Kaili

Kaili Lambe, Political Campaign Manager
Democracy for America

Hernandez’s office wouldn’t say what would make him vote “yes.” According to Rubio’s office, the Senator thinks the federal Affordable Care Act is enough to solve California’s healthcare crisis. The truth is, unlike SB 810, the federal reform law won’t cover all Californians, and it won’t do enough to control costs. The ACA leaves in place the unsustainable profit-driven healthcare system, and will continue to burden taxpayers.

Rubio represents the same district as former state Senate Majority Leader, Dean Florez, who had been a co-sponsor of the bill when it was introduced. Hernandez’s wavering and Rubio’s brush off smell a lot like the work of insurance industry meddling.

Meanwhile, SB 810 got a much needed shout out at last weekend’s California Democratic Party State Convention in Sacramento. Sunday’s general session, which I attended, featured a parade of speeches by various state party officials. Then, California Democratic Council President Henry Vandermeir got to the podium and addressed the delegates with news that a longtime party activist had recently died because he didn’t have health insurance. (The CDC is a statewide association of Democratic clubs and party county committees.) Vandermeir next proceeded to chastise Hernandez and Rubio for potentially killing SB810, and urged the delegates – several hundred strong in the auditorium – to call the lawmakers and tell them to vote in favor of SB 810.

Single payer came up in several speeches during the two-day general session – most notably from keynote speaker, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. But the fate of SB 810 was not mentioned until Vandermeir brought it up that Sunday afternoon. I didn’t see his heartfelt endorsement coming, so what a pleasant and most welcome surprise.