Calif. health professional students rally for single payer

Note: What follows is some of the media coverage given to parallel marches and rallies held on Monday, Jan. 9, in Sacramento and Los Angeles protesting the continuing injustices in U.S. health care and calling for a universal, single-payer health system. The protests were sponsored by the California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA), the Campaign for a Healthy California, Occupy LA, Occupy Sacramento, PNHP California and other groups. In Sacramento, the rally was immediately followed by student lobbying efforts in the state Capitol.

Health care students demonstrate for single-payer insurance

By Special to The Enterprise
The Davis Enterprise (Davis, Calif.), Jan. 10, 2012

Wailing a mournful tune, an eight-piece New Orleans funeral-style jazz band led about 500 California health professional students and their supporters Monday down Capitol Mall to the north entrance of the state Capitol in Sacramento.

Carrying two mock coffins, they demonstrated their support for a single-payer “Medicare for all” reform to the state’s health insurance laws.

The reason for the coffins was that there are an estimated 1,000 deaths per month in California due to lack of access to health care, demonstrators said. In this state, nearly 7 million do not have health insurance, a major reason why many have difficulty finding care.

The Davis contingent included Mary Zhu, M.D.; Paul Ulbrich, D.O., a retired emergency room physician; Millie Braunstein, R.N., Ph.D., the state vice chairwoman of Health Care for All; and Joan Moses, former president of the Davis League of Women Voters.

The demonstrators, who included more than 30 from Davis and the UC Davis medical school, were mainly composed of medical, nursing, pharmacy and public health students.

Dr. Henry Abrons, chairman of Physicians for a National Health Plan — California, a retired intensive care doctor, observed that he often may treat an asthma, cardiac or respiratory patient on life support in the intensive care unit who was seen in the ER a few weeks earlier, but couldn’t afford to fill a prescription, or have follow-up care by a primary care specialist.

Senate Bill 810, authored by Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, which was positively voted out of the Health Committee last spring, is due for a crucial vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Jan. 17. It would establish the process for building a single-payer health insurance agency in California, similar to the federal Medicare agency. Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, is a co-author of the bill.

Leno said private and public employers have found that their health care premium rates have increased an average of 153 percent over 10 years, compared with an inflation rate of 29 percent. Many speakers at the rally pointed out that the United States spends far more for health care than any other advanced economy, but many public health statistics show poorer outcomes.

SB 810 is designed to use health care dollars more wisely, while providing universal coverage, supporters said.

Rally procession brings attention to health coverage

By Kathy Robertson, Senior Staff Writer for Sacramento Business Journal, Jan. 9, 2012

Nurses, medical students, seniors, doctors and members of the Occupy movement rallied in downtown Los Angeles and at the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday to rouse support for guaranteed health coverage for all Americans.

The local rally started at Third Street and Capitol Mall at 11 a.m. and progressed to the Capitol steps at noon. The Occupy movement planned to target insurance denials by health plans.

A New Orleans-style funeral procession remembering those who die every year without coverage gave way to a rally in support of Assembly Bill 810, which seeks to establish a single-payer system in California.

The bill was suspended on the Assembly floor late last session by author Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco. Proponents argue the bill would address California’s budget emergency by lowering state expenditures through a more rational, more cost-effective health care system. They have been trying for at least eight years to get a single-payer system into law. Health insurers oppose it.

The bill would establish a state-administered single-payer system to provide health coverage to all Californians without regard to income or employment status. It would establish a new state agency under control of an appointed healthcare commissioner to run the program.

It’s unclear how the program would jibe with federal health reform, although the federal law allows states to opt out of insurance exchanges in 2017 and get a waiver for innovative alternatives.


Supporters Of Single Payer Insurance System March In Downtown LA
CBS Los Angeles, Channel 9 television news, Jan. 9, 2012

Finally these additional sources of coverage:

PNHP’s Dr. William Bronston offers a gallery of photographs of the Sacramento march and rally.

Indymedia’s coverage of the Sacramento march and rally includes a photo of PNHP’s banner at end.

Thanks to PNHP for pulling this together.