A New Year's Day Parade for 'Medicare for All' Signals Energized Battle Ahead in California

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A New Year's Day Parade for 'Medicare for All' Signals Energized Battle Ahead in California

"People are hip to faux solutions and incrementalism and are not buying it. They want Medicare for All—and they want it now."

Advocates for 'Medicare for All' and the state-level single payer bill, SB562, marched in the immediate wake of the Rose Parade in Pasadena on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (Photo: Keith Durflinger, Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

In the immediate wake of Monday's Rose Parade—which takes place annually on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California—hundreds of residents and advocates took over the parade route with a march of their own as they called for 'Medicare for All' and demanded passage of a bill currently stalled in the state legislature that would provide every Californian with healthcare coverage.

"People should pay attention to California because it is the example, the model, the bellwether, for what is possible and as California has set the trend for the rest of the country on a myriad of other important issues, it is and will set the trend on guaranteed, single-payer healthcare for all." —RoseAnn DeMoro, CNA/NNUThose who marched, reports the Pasadena Star-News, waved large banners reading "Medicare for all" and "Public health not corporate wealth" as they sang songs, danced along the streets, and emphasized to onlookers the need for a universal healthcare system that excludes nobody.

"What we’re saying is health care for all, rich, poor, and no matter what race you are," Sam Schwiner, a local resident and one of the marchers, told the newspaper.

"SB... 5... 6... 2!" chanted members of the parade. "It's good for me! It's good for you!"

As Common Dreams has reported, the progress of SB 562—the proposed bill that would establish a single-payer system in California, the nation's most populous state—was derailed in June of 2017 when Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, decided to pull the plug on its progress by shelving it for the legislative session.

Though Rendon received plenty of criticism from the major backers of the bill, including the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) and the Healthy California campaign, its supporters have continued to push for its passage, sweeping the state with a tireless door-to-door campaign and vowing to see it brought back before state lawmakers in 2018.

According to RoseAnn DeMoro, CNA/NNU's executive director, support for the single-payer cuts across ideological divisions and remains extremely popular across the state.

The parade on Pasadena on Monday "signifies the ongoing popularity of the issue among all facets of our society," DeMoro told Common Dreams in an email.

"There is nothing more mainstream in California than the Rose Parade and to see this level of turnout, enthusiasm and commitment in the early morning of a New Year's Day is impressive," she continued.

Despite the ongoing hostility from its opponents—which DeMoro identified as "establishment Democrats" and financial donors from the insurance and pharmaceutical industry, for-profit hospitals, right-wing operatives, and corporate interests—she says support for SB562 is only getting stronger.

Quoting longtime organizer Bill Moyer—who once said that "movements succeed when they win over ever-greater levels of public support for their cause and undermine the pillars of support" of the status quo—DeMoro says that is precisely what's happening in California's ongoing battle for single-payer.

"People should pay attention to California because it is the example, the model, the bellwether, for what is possible and as California has set the trend for the rest of the country on a myriad of other important issues, it is and will set the trend on guaranteed, single-payer healthcare for all," she said. "And people are hip to faux solutions and incrementalism and are not buying it. They want Medicare for All—and they want it now."

The time for Medicare for All, she said, has finally come.

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