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Jamie Sheldon holds a Medicare for All sign as she listens to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) address an audience during a town hall meeting on gun violence at Lincoln High School in San Francisco on August 27, 2019

Jamie Sheldon holds a Medicare for All sign as she listens to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) address an audience during a town hall meeting on gun violence at Lincoln High School in San Francisco on August 27, 2019. (Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

'For-Profit Healthcare Hurts All of Us': Sacramento Approves Single-Payer Resolution

"We're going to keep passing these resolutions until we end our profit-driven healthcare system."

Kenny Stancil

Advocates for a single-payer healthcare system that would provide universal coverage at a lower cost than the current for-profit model celebrated this week after the Sacramento City Council passed a resolution supporting federal Medicare for All legislation and the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, known as CalCare.

"All of us, even if you have 'good insurance,' are one illness away from bankruptcy."

"We're going to keep passing these resolutions until we end our profit-driven healthcare system," progressive advocacy group Public Citizen tweeted Wednesday.

Roughly 7% of Sacramento's residents—more than 30,000 individuals—are uninsured, and thousands more are underinsured, resulting in exorbitant out-of-pocket costs that force people to postpone or skip out on lifesaving care.

"Every day we nurses see the cost of our patients going without care or delaying care," Diane McClure, RN, a board member of the California Nurses Association and a Sacramento resident, said during Tuesday night's council hearing. "It is critically important for people to get the care they need when they need it without barriers like copays and deductibles."

"I have personally seen patients turned down for surgery, even when the doctor has deemed it necessary," said McClure. "CalCare affirms healthcare as a human right by establishing a single-payer healthcare system that meets the needs of all Californians."

Ahead of the council vote, other members of the Sacramento community also advocated for the necessity of Medicare for All—a policy that more than 70% of U.S. voters support and that would do far more to solve the nation's healthcare crisis than less ambitious proposals, such as expanding the Affordable Care Act or creating a public option.

Right now, "all of us, even if you have 'good insurance,' are one illness away from bankruptcy," said Shirley Toy, RN, co-chair of the Sacramento Democratic Socialists of America healthcare committee. Toy emphasized the difference between guaranteed, high-quality healthcare and employer-based health insurance that can disappear with the loss of a job, as millions of people in the U.S. have experienced firsthand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

San Jose also recently passed a resolution in favor of CalCare (AB 1400). Both cities join a growing list of municipalities that are demanding an end to the exclusionary, profit-maximizing status quo that benefits the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries while causing avoidable suffering for working people and low-income families.

During her testimony, McClure noted that more than 10 cities in California have already passed resolutions endorsing CalCare, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland.

Sheng Thao, an Oakland city councilmember and mayoral candidate, welcomed the additional support for CalCare, adding that "a statewide, universal healthcare program will be the biggest investment into working people the state has made in modern history."

"As California lawmakers prepare for their next legislative session in Sacramento in January, they should take notice that the elected officials of this city have joined municipal leaders across the state... to demand that the state legislature and governor deliver on their healthcare promises and enact CalCare (AB 1400)," Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen's Medicare for All campaign, said in a statement.

Sacramento Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who introduced the resolution last September, said this week that "for-profit healthcare hurts all of us."

"When our neighbors cannot access preventative care, they get sick more frequently and need more care," she added. "When they cannot afford their bills, the health systems pass those costs along to all of us. The system is simply not designed to achieve the goal of cost-effective, human-centered care."

Dozens of cities nationwide, including Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, New Orleans, and Knoxville have also passed resolutions in support of Medicare for All.

"Momentum is growing," St. Louis said earlier this year. "Cities and counties are joining the millions of voters across the country to send a message to Congress that healthcare should be guaranteed for everyone. The pandemic has made it painfully clear that the status quo is unacceptable."


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