By Eric C. Bauman, RN
Vice-Chair, California Democratic Party
Chair, Los Angeles County Democratic Party

LA Progressive – Published 1/30/2017

The Trump Administration’s brutal assault on healthcare has begun. His morally bankrupt and extremist partisan allies Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are moving to ruthlessly implement a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Democrats in Sacramento are determined to resist these efforts and protect the low cost insurance millions of Californians can get through Covered California plans.

But even as we fight the Trump Administration, we cannot miss the historic opportunity this moment presents us: enacting single-payer healthcare into law in California. Let’s take that step and make California a “healthcare sanctuary” state!

We cannot miss the historic opportunity this moment presents us: enacting single-payer healthcare into law in California. Let’s take that step and make California a “healthcare sanctuary” state!

This is not just another policy issue for me to pontificate upon. This is something I’ve lived and breathed for more than 35 years as a Registered Nurse. I’ve practiced in ERs and ICUs and managed hospitals in inner-city Los Angeles and in rural places like Imperial County, and I’ve worked with policy makers and regulators who have fought for single-payer healthcare. I served as California’s Deputy Insurance Commissioner, advised a Governor and three Assembly Speakers and was part of four different legislative efforts to bring single-payer to California – and through all of these years of experience, I feel like now is truly the time that it can happen!

In my time serving as a nurse I have seen the look on a person’s face when I told someone they’re sick, but offered that “you’re going to be okay because we caught it early and we have this treatment available.” I’ve also tried to resuscitate patients who’d had no healthcare for years, and watched the faces of their families as we had to tell them their mother or father had not survived – because their lack of healthcare over the years had damaged their bodies beyond a breaking point. These were incredibly powerful experiences, and anyone who has ever gone through that understands why it’s so important to have quality, affordable healthcare, for everyone.

That’s why I cheered when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Though it was not single-payer and did not include the “public option,” it was a first, huge step on a national level towards universal healthcare. And its promise has resulted in nearly 24 million people gaining healthcare coverage in the past four years. That’s why I’m proud of our Representatives and Senators in Washington who are determined to resist its repeal with every ounce of strength they can muster.

After our success with the ACA in California, providing healthcare coverage to more than four million people and bringing our uninsured rate to the lowest level in memory, I believe the time is right for us to finally implement single-payer, right here in the Golden State. One of the core principles of Obamacare is that states should experiment and innovate on how to provide better healthcare at lower prices. Well, let’s rise to the challenge, and just as we’ve done with implementing the ACA, prove we can do it!

Millions of Californians have taken to the streets over the last few weeks to demand positive, uplifting change. And Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign mobilized a new generation of Democratic Party activists who are willing to show-up en-mass to fight tooth-and-nail for the real reforms that are long overdue. So let’s harness that energy, and fight to make Medicare-style, single-payer healthcare a reality for California’s 39 million people.

Nobody innovates or experiments like California. So let’s do it right: no questions about pre-existing conditions, annual or lifetime limits, or basic and important coverage. Just healthcare for all, with a single source of base funding – without the cost or interference of insurance companies.

This is a moment worth seizing. The biggest, most profound difference we can make in the lives of Californians is to ensure that all of us have quality, affordable healthcare. so let’s take that step–it’s as simple as reintroducing SB 810, which our legislators can easily do.

Progressives all over the country and the world are looking to California for leadership. And so California should lead.

We believe healthcare is a right for everyone, not a privilege for the few, so let’s make it a reality for everyone here in California – we can do it!