If you are involved in the Single Payer movement in California this diary may help you understand what we face and whet we can do to get things done.
I am one of those Single Payer activists who understands that Obamacare will benefit many and it is truly amazing that this effort, that President Obama should get full credit for, is the best that could come from a dysfunctional and extremely polarized DC.
And I support those who keep up the fight to prevent its sabotage by all the Republicans in red states and in DC.
I consider the ACA a giant first step towards an America where healthcare is recognized as a basic human right and there is a system that allows ALL who live here to have access to affordable medical attention without the fear of going bankrupt.
And I understand that California is leading the country in the implementation of Obamacare. But it’s not about being better than other states like Texas and Georgia where Obamacare is being sabotaged or ignored. It’s about joining Vermont to help lead the country to a place where ALL are covered, where the private insurance blood suckers are gone, where medical results and costs are in line with other developed nations, where if you need to see a doctor (or a dentist) you make an appointment and you don’t worry whether you will be able to pay the rent (given that 76% of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck).
So how do we get it done? Here’s how.
Bill Zimmerman has just published an article that sets the tone:
Recently Public Citizen, a member of California’s AllCare Alliance, released a report entitled, “A Roadmap to Single-Payer: How States Can Escape the Clutches of the Private Health Insurance Industry.” “We’re looking for a few pioneering states with the courage and fortitude to let common sense prevail over the insanity of our current patchwork system, “said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Once they succeed, we expect most opposition to single-payer and our reliance on privately insured health care to become historical relics.”
By the time California votes to move to a single payer system – the earliest date possible is 2017 when the Affordable Care Act allows states to set up their own systems – Congress will have gone through two more election cycles. Voters will be less white, and probably less conservative, and the changing composition of the House of Representatives may allow for passage of single-payer waiver legislation for states, perhaps even with “state’s rights” support from a few Republicans.
California, Vermont and possibly other states moving to single-payer will put increasing pressure on Congress to grant other state waivers. Once subject to such pressure, Congress could theoretically pass a federal bill to give (improved) Medicare to all, but it is politically far more likely that they will simply let the states set up their own systems, which can then become models for a larger federal program. California, once again, could be the engine driving national change.
One of the features of Obamacare is the “waiver”. The idea is that states can apply for this “waiver” and implement their own plan starting 2017 if this new plan covers more people and is affordable.
So lets take a look at what the ACA says about the “innovation waiver”:
SEC. 1332 ø42 U.S.C. 18052¿. WAIVER FOR STATE INNOVATION.
(1) IN GENERAL.—A State may apply to the Secretary for the waiver of all or any requirements described in paragraph
(2) with respect to health insurance coverage within that State for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017. Such application shall—
(A) be filed at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require;
(B) contain such information as the Secretary may require, including—
(i) a comprehensive description of the State legislation and program to implement a plan meeting the requirements for a waiver under this section; and
(ii) a 10-year budget plan for such plan that is budget neutral for the Federal Government; and
(C) provide an assurance that the State has enacted the law described in
So this is the milestone that any state has to go through. The Vermont single payer activists lead the way. Even Vermont will apply for the “innivation waiver” to get federal funds starting in 2017 to help pay for their Single Payer system.
Here in California the Single Payer organizations (linked logos below) will announce soon the plan to achieve the “waiver” milestone by January 1st 2017. The Single Payer plan that will be proposed will be based mostly on SB 810, which was approved by SEnate and Assembly twice and vetoed twice by Arnold Schwarzenegger and in 2012 it was stopped by 6 blue dogs in the Senate before it could get to Jerry Brown’s desk.
In California, one of the key issues is that Obamacare will leave out over 3,000,000 undocumented workers. These 3,000,000 are an integral part of our society and mostly but not all are Latinos. And as Joan McCarter pointed out, Latino organizations worry about funding for Obamacare outreach efforts:
Hispanic health centers and community organizations say they don’t have the funding or resources to carry out the complicated sign up process for the 10 million Latinos who will be eligible for new public and subsidized health coverage options.
Latino organization outreach is a key to success.
And we should coordinate the efforts around the country.
So here in California we need to work with Sacramento at all levels. It will be a lot of hard work but there are thousands of committed activists.
One way you can help is by joining one of the Single Payer organizations and help us organize and direct the grassroots movement that will be instrumental in convincing Sacramento to go along.