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Last week, SB 810, California's single payer health care bill, passed the California Senate Appropriations Committee by a party line vote of 6-2, with one Republican abstention.

According to Heath Care For All and confirmed by an aide to Senator Leno (the bill's sponsor), there is a January 31st deadline to move this bill out of the Senate. Therefore a floor vote must be taken by then or the bill will die.

Unsurprisingly, the lies about this legislation continue on fast and furious. E.g.

An analysis of the bill found that creating a single-payer system to serve all 37 million state residents could cost up to $250 billion annually. -- California Healthline
A legislative analysis said the bill could cost the state general fund up to $250 billion annually -- LA Times.

That $250 billion figure is more than the total cost for all health care currently provided in the state of California! If all health care costs are to be borne by California, then it will naturally have to pay out about whatever Californians currently spend per year. But what is not being explained is that the money that is currently being used to pay for health care in California -- the premiums you pay, funds received from the Federal Government, and current State of California obligations, will be used and will more than cover the expense. By definition! (Especially since health insurance company profits and massive administrative "overhead" of 30% will no longer exist).

And so, because of such lies and health insurance company lobbyist money and pressure, once again the citizens of California are called upon to force their Legislators do the right thing.

There are forty Senators. Twenty votes are needed to pass this and push it on to the Assembly, because

The Lieutenant Governor ((of California)) is the ex officio President of the Senate and may break a tied vote.

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is a strong proponent of single payer health care, having presided as Mayor over the introduction of Healthy San Francisco, which the culmination of Mayor Newsom's 2005 State of the City pledge to provide universal health care access to the city's estimated 73,000 uninsured.

and so I assume (but have not verified) that he would be able to, and would, cast a deciding favorable vote in the case of a tie.

Senator Leno (D - San Francisco) is the sponsor of the bill. There are nine co-sponsors:

Senator Alquist
Senator Evans
Senator Corbett

Senator Lieu
Senator Lowenthal
Senator Hancock

Senator Yee
Senator Pavley
Senator DeSaulnier

Ten more Democratic votes, out of a total of fifteen, are necessary (I would say there is no hope of any Republican votes, and we certainly are not going to count on any, but one never knows...).

Below are the fifteen non co-sponsors of SB 810. They need to be contacted and asked to support SB 810.

You Need To Contact Them!

If you are not sure who your California State Senator is, Find out here.

If you know your State Senator by name, and he/she is one of the fifteen, here is a link to his or her web page and that Senator's Sacramento office phone number:

Senator Calderon (916) 651-4030
Senator Correa (916) 651-4034
Senator de Leon (916) 651-4022
Senator Hernandez (916) 651-4024
Senator Kehoe (916) 651-4039
Senator Liu (916) 651-4021
Senator Negrete McLeod (916) 651-4032
Senator Padilla (916) 651-4020
Senator Price (916) 651-4026
Senator Rubio (916) 651-4016
Senator Simitian (916) 651-4011
Senator Steinberg (916) 651-4006
Senator Vargas (916) 651-4040
Senator Wolk (916) 651-4005
Senator Wright (916) 651-4025
Senators Kehoe, Price and Steinberg voted SB 810 out of committee last week, but that is no guarantee that any of them will vote for the legislation on the Senate floor. Even asuming those votes that still leaves seven to secure.

Health Care For All lists five key Senators:

Senator Hernandez
Senator Rubio
Senator Vargas
Senator Correa
Senator Calderon

And provides some points to make if and when you get through to your Senator:

  • If writing a letter, tell your personal healthcare struggles if you have a story to share, and supplement with points below. (Stories related to increases in healthcare costs, limited access, denied care, unaffordable, bankruptcy, children who cannot get insurance, etc. are important for educating legislators on the impact to Californians and very compelling.)
  • California must meet the challenge presented by President Obama -- for states to do better than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This is why he allowed states to request waivers to implement healthcare programs that can do better like SB 810.
  • The $200 billion price tag for SB 810 is incorrect - this is money already spent on healthcare -- not a new expenditure, so there is no change. There is a trigger that is only initiated once funding is secured to pay for the program.
  • Single Payer as a solution to the State's current fiscal crisis by saving $9b illion in the first year and billions annually going forward. Currently one third of the state budget is related to healthcare which could be cut by one third to one half with a Single Payer system, saving billions of taxpayer dollars.

This is still just the beginning. If the bill passes the Senate, it will go to the Assembly, where another battle will take place. If the bill emerges there it will be put on Governor Brown's desk, where yet another big fight will likely ensue to get him to sign it.  

Then (still with me?), the voters of California will have to pass a referendum giving the state taxing authority to finance the new law, because otherwise the financing would have to pass the Legislature with a 2/3rds majority (due to Proposition 13), a currently impossible task. For that reason, SB 810 itself does not contain financing provisions, but can only take effect if financing is provided.

Finally, in order to implement the new law, a waiver will be required from the Federal Government, so that California Single Payer can take the place of PPACA rules and regulations.

Yes, legislation's a bitch. Getting something as truly revolutionary in this country as a single payer health care system will require massive effort on the part of everyone. But it's got to be done, or the insurance companies will surely strangle us all.

Call Today! Call Tomorrow! Call Until It Passes!

If you are not sure who your California State Senator is, Find out here.

If you call and find out that one of the fifteen Democratic non-sponsors (or any Republican, hah) will be voting for SB 810, let us all know!

11:22 AM PT: From the comments:

Senator Curren Price Supports the bill
Just spoke to them.

by jalbert

Great news!

5:48 PM PT: One more that we now know of:

Senator is Lois Wolk.  
I spoke to her a while back and she said she supported it.  She is from Davis a pretty liberal town. I will call all of them tomorrow.

by timethief

Eight more!

Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 08:58 AM PST.

Also republished by California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, Single Payer: The Fight for Medicare for All, Healthcare Reform - We've Only Just Begun, Dailykos Kossacks For Action, Single Payer California, and Dream Menders.

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