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A person takes part in a January 8, 2022 caravan in Sacramento, part of a multi-city event nurses with the California Nurses Association organized across the state to demand that the state adopt the California Guaranteed Healthcare for All Act, AB 1400. (Photo: California Nurses Association/CNA)

A person takes part in a January 8, 2022 caravan in Sacramento, part of a multi-city event nurses with the California Nurses Association organized across the state to demand that the state adopt the California Guaranteed Healthcare for All Act, AB 1400. (Photo: California Nurses Association/CNA)

California Progressives Warn Dems Against No Vote on Single-Payer

"This shouldn't be controversial," the state progressive caucus said. "When you vote against the state party platform and bills we have endorsed we will simply vote to not endorse you."

Andrea Germanos

Vote in favor of a bill on Monday to establish single-payer healthcare system for California residents or risk losing your endorsement from the state Democratic Party.

"Any Assembly member that thinks they can ignore the party, ignore labor, ignore people, vote against us, and then still get the endorsement might find they have a tougher reelection battle than they thought."

That was the message this week to Assembly members from the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party ahead of a Monday vote on AB 1400.

The proposed legislation, introduced by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), would establish CalCare, a first-in-the-nation system to provide universal healthcare coverage to state residents.

Opposed by industry groups, it's supported by the California Nurses Association, which says that "by streamlining payments and lowering per-capita health care spending," the measure would guarantee "quality health care and long-term care without creating barriers to care or out-of-pocket costs."

Earlier this month, AB 1400 passed the Assembly's health and appropriations committees. It's now days away from a vote by the full Assembly, and has an end-of-the-month deadline to pass.

Sacramento's Fox40 reported Thursday that the state progressive caucus "is preparing to take away party endorsements from Assembly members who reject the proposal."

Progressive Caucus Chairman and California Democratic Party executive board member Amar Shergill confirmed that stance, telling the outlet: "Any Assembly member that thinks they can ignore the party, ignore labor, ignore people, vote against us, and then still get the endorsement might find they have a tougher reelection battle than they thought."

Among the progressive voices welcoming the news was Bryant Odega, an organizer with Sunrise Movement LA. "You are either with the people or with the for-profit health insurance industry!" he tweeted.

Statements shared on social media by the executive board of the state Democratic Party Progressive Caucus frame the vote as a no-brainer, given that single-payer is part of the California Democratic Party's platform.

"This shouldn't be controversial," the caucus tweeted. "When you vote against the state party platform and bills we have endorsed we will simply vote to not endorse you. But if you vote for #AB1400 it's all love from us."

The warning about losing an endorsement was made clear to members earlier this week. Shergill said in a message:

"On Tuesday morning," Shergill said in a public announcement, "the Progressive Caucus sent an email to all of our members and to every delegate in the party, including elected officials, calling for a challenge to the endorsement of any Assembly member that fails to vote 'Yes' for AB 1400 on Monday. That email described a basic function of democracy and party organizing: elected officials vote on bills, then we vote on their endorsement. It's that simple.

Ben Hauck, Southern California vice chair of the progressive caucus, also responded to the new reporting in a Twitter thread on Thursday in which he explained how the consequences of not voting in favor of AB 1400 follows a democratic process:

As Chuck Idelson, the senior communications strategist for National Nurses United, explained in a op-ed published Friday at Common Dreams, the backdrop of the vote should be "the very real people whose lives illustrate why CalCare is needed," people who face a "nightmare" of "financial catastrophe" as a result of no or insufficient healthcare coverage.

"The multi-trillion dollar-healthcare industry is in an all-out panic over the prospect" of a statewide single-payer system, he wrote, "bombarding legislators and the press with the sky is falling scenarios about the consequences of losing their golden goose."

Should the measure pass, it would still need to head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

His signature, however, is not guaranteed, as the Daily Poster reported Friday.

"Despite his campaign promise," the outlet reported, "the California governor has long been allied with insurance companies opposing the reform."


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