Facing possible extinction for the first time in four years, the single payer bill SB 810 pulled through, passing the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday on a 5-3 vote, state Sen. Mark Leno’s office reported. Up until a couple of days ago, committee chair Sen. Ed Hernandez had been undecided, putting the bill in jeopardy. But intense pressure from single payer advocates across the state and a massive phone campaign finally secured a “yes” vote from Hernandez. In addition, hundreds of single payer supporters descended upon the Capitol in Sacramento to attend the hearing.

Leno’s office released the following statement after the vote:

“California is being overrun by out-of-control health care costs, which has a significant impact on the state budget, businesses and families,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Our single payer plan not only guarantees universal coverage for all Californians, but also contains health care costs, which is essential to solving our state budget crisis in the long term.”

SB 810 creates a private-public partnership to provide every California resident medical, dental, vision, hospitalization and prescription drug benefits and allows patients to choose their own doctors and hospitals. This single payer, “Medicare for All” type of program works by pooling together the money that government, employers and individuals already spend on health care and putting it to better use by cutting out the for-profit middle man.

“We must continue to fight for healthcare for every Californian,” said DeAnn McEwen, President of the California Nurses Association and a nurse at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. “Federal reform does not insure that all Californians will receive the care they need. President Obama noted that if states come up with a better plan, they could move forward. Californians deserve the best. Senate Bill 810 will provide every Californian with an excellent standard of care, improve health outcomes, and finally get healthcare costs under control.”

California currently spends $200 billion annually on a fragmented, inefficient health care system that wastes 30% of every dollar on administration. Under Senate Bill 810, that wasteful spending is eliminated. The bill creates no new spending, and in fact, studies show that the state would save $8 billion in the first year under this single-payer health care plan.

“Most doctors support a public-private partnership like Medicare, but with everybody covered, better benefits, and lower costs,” said Dr. Henry L. Abrons, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, California Chapter. “We need to spend our precious resources wisely. Federal reform won’t accomplish these things, but SB 810 will.”

“Health Care for All realizes that the only way to provide better health care for absolutely everyone, for less money than we’re now spending, and control rising costs, is to pass a bill like SB 810 and then make the necessary changes to finance it,” said Greg Brockbank, chair of Health Care for All, California. “We stand ready to do our part in making that happen, and then to help successfully implement it.”

SB 810 will now move forward to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s imperative that we keep calling and writing our legislators so we can get the bill through the entire Senate a fourth time, then on to the Assembly, and finally to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Along with Vermont – which is poised to pass its own single payer bill – we have the chance to show the rest of the country that single payer works, and is the best and most fiscally responsible way to solve our healthcare crisis. Full care for all, for less!

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