Message from Senator Leno on California Single-Payer Setback

By Senator Mark Leno, from

Most of you have likely heard the disappointing news that our bill, SB 810, the California Universal Health Care Act, failed to move off the Senate Floor by January 31st, meaning it cannot advance further in the legislative process this year. Despite our unwavering advocacy, too few members were willing to cast votes in favor of SB 810 this year, including several members who had voted for the legislation before. Unfortunately this means that Californians will continue to have a broken health care system in dire need of change, but that is not for lack of effort.

I want to thank and recognize the valiant efforts of the many groups and individuals who worked so hard to make our universal health care bill a reality. First, the California School Employees Association and California Nurses Association led lobbying efforts on behalf of SB 810 all year. Also, Campaign for a Healthy California, Health Care for All, California Physicians for a National Health Plan, California One Care, Single Payer Now, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Health Professional Student Alliance, League of Women Voters and many other groups organized their members to advocate on behalf of the bill.

Finally, thousands of individual advocates made phone calls, attended meetings, marched and held signs at rallies, and sent letters, faxes and emails in favor of SB 810. Together, these efforts sent a strong message to legislators that the single-payer health care movement is here to stay. I thank all of these passionate supporters from the bottom of my heart.

The single-payer movement is based on a long-term vision and strategy. This setback does not change our work to advocate for universal health care. We have always found the courage to speak out for health care for all, even when others around us told us it was not the right time. Ultimately, the powerful interests that favor doing nothing to repair our health care system can only be overcome by courage and determination – something our movement has in abundance.

I encourage you to continue building support for universal health care at the grass roots level within your communities. Reach out to your co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members about why their elected officials should vote for Medicare for All. Help build our case to the governor, other elected officials and those who are currently seeking office so that they know the people of California support single-payer legislation.

As the author of SB 810, I share your deep commitment to this cause, this movement, and the people behind it. We will not stop fighting until we have comprehensive health care for every Californian.


  1. Al on February 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    A readable hyperlinked version of what we are missing ( the Bill).

    • Hal Goldfarb on February 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      And a quick search through that link does not show ERISA appearing once. I would love to know how Single Payer will be able to succeed in the face of ERISA’s health care provisions. Thank you to anyone who will squarely address this problem (extra points for not attacking the questioner!!!)

  2. Helen B. Canin on February 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you Sen. Leno for not giving up. We will try not to also…as disappointing as Bill 810 not moving is.

  3. Steve V on February 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Why don’t we “OUT” this practice of voting FOR a bill like SB 810 when it is certain to face a veto, but vote AGAINST it when there’s a (outside) chance it will get signed? Maybe an action where there are four puppets (the senators) controlled by a modern day “Buffalo Bob” Smith (the insurance industry)? OCCUPY has focused its efforts on banks. Time to switch to insurance companies.

    I’ve been a member of Democratic clubs that have worked hard for single-payer for 20 years. We need something stronger than just writing a letter expressing our displeasure and maybe threatening a primary challenge…

  4. Sherrill Futrell on February 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Please tell us the names of the California State Senators who voted against single-payer. Thanks.