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AN OPEN LETTER TO ASSEMBLYMEMBER JIM WOOD (AD-2)

After several months, many meetings, and hours of effort on the part of a handful of people, the Healthcare For All Working Group has formalized an open letter to Assemblymember Jim Wood, who not only represents many residents in Sonoma County and across the North Bay, but is the Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. His efforts to help pass any healthcare reform is crucial and we are asking him to take a leadership role on this issue. Here is that letter (a pdf of the letter, with all 125 signatories shown, can be downloaded HERE):

 

Dear Assemblymember Wood,

As organizations and individuals, we’ve supported you over the years, and we appreciate what you’ve done for the residents of Assembly District 2 during your time in the California State Assembly.

At this critical moment in our state’s history, with a pandemic underscoring the shortcomings of our current healthcare “system”—including its inequities and spiraling costs—we, your constituents, call on you to do something bold and vitally important for our community and all Californians. We urge you to use your considerable influence as Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and a member of Governor Newsom’s Healthy California for All Commission to advance universal, single-payer healthcare in our state.

As you’re well aware, AD 2 is predominantly rural, with large indigenous and Latinx populations, and overall it is less affluent than some other parts of the state. Your constituents are among those who are suffering the most under our current inequitable, overpriced, and underperforming system. In the recent Community Voices survey of Californians who are low income and predominantly from communities of color, there was overwhelming support for a single-payer healthcare system (with 65 percent in favor and just 21 percent opposed). That strong support has also been made clear in multiple polls of Democratic voters, with a recent poll showing 84 percent support here in our state.

Your community and your voters have your back to lead on this issue. And far more important, crafting a single-payer solution is the best way to fulfill the responsibility you have to your constituents struggling to access and pay for healthcare. Numerous academic studies as well as real-world examples from all over the globe have shown single-payer is the optimal approach for improving care while reining in cost.

Specifically, we urge you to work with Assemblymember Ash Kalra and other supporters of the CalCare bill (AB 1400) in the coming months to address questions of how California might best finance a single-payer system. Once the CalCare bill is reintroduced in the Assembly in January 2022, we ask you to take the lead in advancing it through your Health Committee and do all you can to help the bill pass the Assembly, move through the Senate, and land on the governor’s desk.

As you know, Governor Newsom ran for office on the promise of bringing singlepayer to our state, and the majority of California voters are eager to see that happen. We’re counting on legislative leaders like you to help Governor Newsom keep his promise.

Our state has faced many crises since you’ve been in office, and you’ve stepped up to address them and help your constituents. We appeal to that spirit of service now. Your leadership is needed to leverage your unique position in Sacramento to advance a single-payer healthcare system in our state. More than any other accomplishment you and others in the legislature might achieve in the course of your political careers, single-payer universal healthcare would do the most toprotect the lives, improve the finances, and brighten the futures of Californians.

As you recently commented in a Healthy California for All Commission meeting, we need to push back against outside influences that are blocking reform and harming people's health. We agree, and we hope you'll stand strong against those influences, be they tobacco and soda companies or Big Pharma and health-insurance profiteers.

 

Signed by 125 organizations and individuals 


About Us...

 

The Healthcare for All Working Group is made up of medical professionals, labor advocates, and community activists. Our roots are in two respected local organizations, North Bay Jobs with Justice (NBJwJ) and Healthcare Professionals for Equality and Community Empowerment (HPEACE),

 

Based in Sonoma County, our mission is to advocate for meaningful healthcare reform, both in California and across the country. Specifically, we’d like to expand access to care through a single-payer, Medicare-for-All healthcare solution—for our state and the nation. Unlike proposed reforms such as the public option, single-payer would cut out the complexities and profit motives that increase costs while rationing care based on patients’ ability to pay.

 

At the national level, we encourage support for Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act (HR 1976). It’s a comprehensive single-payer bill that would cover all necessary healthcare, including longterm care, without any out-of-pocket costs. You can read more about it here. Medicare for All champion Bernie Sanders is expected to submit a companion bill in the Senate in the coming months.

 

At the state level, the California Guaranteed Healthcare for All Act, also known as CalCare (AB 1400) was introduced in the California legislature in early 2021, but that bill, which aims to establish a single-payer system in the state, is currently on hold until January 2022 to flesh out financing details. You can learn more about what’s in the bill here and review some talking points here .

 

State Senator Mike McGuire is one of the principal co-authors of the CalCare bill.

 

But Assembly District 2’s representative in the State Assembly, Jim Wood, hasn’t signed on to support the bill. Assemblymember Wood holds great influence over the fate of the legislation, since he’s the chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee—which will need to support the bill in January 2022 if it is to advance further.

 

We’d love to have you join the Healthcare for All Working Group to help decide our priorities and strategies for the future. If you’re interested, email us at [email protected]

 

 

SOME (NOT SO) FUN FACTS ABOUT OUR CURRENT HEALTHCARE SYSTEM:


❖ We pay too much and get too little. The U.S. is the only one of the 33 most highly developed countries that does not offer universal healthcare.


❖ One-third of Americans skip care because they can’t afford it.


❖ 45,000 people die every year—that averages out to more than 120 deaths a day— because we ration care based on patients’ ability to pay.

 

WHAT THE ALTERNATIVE COULD LOOK LIKE:

❖ Under Senator Sanders’ previous Medicare for All proposal (a 2021 bill hasn’t yet been re-introduced in the Senate), a primary funding mechanisms was a 4% tax on household income greater than $29,000.

❖ Households with an annual income of $50,000 would pay about $840 a year. Those making $100,000 would pay $2,840.


❖ All medically necessary care would be covered—including long-term care for seniors and the disabled; as well as vision, hearing, and dental care.


❖ No more premiums, deductibles, co-payments, or out-of-pocket expenses.


❖ About 90% of families would pay less for healthcare than they do now. For the middle class, Medicare for All would be the biggest increase in take-home pay in 40 years.


❖ By eliminating out-of-pocket costs, it’s estimated that Medicare for All would increase the income of the poor by about 29%, lifting roughly 8 million people out of poverty. It would be the most effective anti-poverty program in American history.


❖ Despite expanding to cover every U.S. resident, Medicare for All will save trillions of dollars over a ten-year period.


❖ Some of the savings come from eliminating the complexity and vast overhead of the current system. The administrative costs of current Medicare are about 2%, while for for-profit insurers, that number ranges between 14-28%.


❖ Other savings come from the bargaining clout with pharmaceutical companies and medical providers that arise from a single-payer system—and the fact that providers are reimbursed not per procedure, but using annual global budgeting models similar to those used in firefighting.


ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE:


❖ If you’re open to text- or phone-banking to help spread the word about Medicare for All and CalCare, you can sign up via this link . National Nurses United will train you and get you started—and rest assured, your own phone number will not be used.

Sign this petition  to ask Governor Newsom to fulfill his campaign promise to champion a single-payer healthcare system in our state.

❖ Call or email Assemblymember Wood to let him know that his constituents want him to get behind the CalCare bill. His phone number is (916) 319-2002, and you can email him by following this link

❖ Thank State Senator McGuire for co-sponsoring CalCare by calling (916) 651-4002 or emailing him at [email protected].

❖ Urge your Representative in Congress to back the State-Based Universal Health Care Act, which would enable CalCare and other state single-payer bills. It creates a waiver to allow states to develop their own plans and access federal funding streams. Reach Rep. Jared Huffman’s D.C. office by calling (202) 225-5161 or send him an email via this link

❖ Get in touch if you’d like the Healthcare for All Working Group to do a tailored presentation for a group you’re part of…or just some friends. Presentations (on Zoom or in person, depending on conditions) usually last for around an hour, including time for Q&A. Email [email protected].