Nov 29, 2021
Is 'Now' Our Moment for Healthcare Justice?
Assemblyman Ash Kalra represents California's 27th District which encompasses about half of the city of San Jose in the Silicon Valley. The first Indian-American to serve in the state's legislature, he has established himself as a progressive leader on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to the environment to health care and housing.
His bill AB 1400, Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, would establish a California-based single-payer system covering all residents of the state.
Get the ultimate insider’s perspective on the challenges California faces in this struggle, and find out why this bill is so important to Assemblyman Kalra!
Click here for podcast transcript
Click here for Ash Kalra’s biography
When it comes to winning a state-based single payer system, what role would the nation’s Health & Human Services Department play?
“So the Department through [HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra] approves the waivers, the federal waivers, and no state can run a single-payer type system without getting federal waivers if they truly want to have a single-payer system and not a disjointed system.”
Major organizations including Kaiser Permanente and some labor unions oppose or are reticent about your bill, AB 1400. What would you say to them?
“...if [Kaiser is] dedicated to serving their patients, serving their community, the reality is that a single-payer system fits really well with their healthcare delivery system.
“Look unions are very egalitarian in that sense and they support things like raising the minimum wage, even though union workers get paid more than minimum wage, because they understand the common humanity of lifting up people. It's just that a lot of the unions bargain really hard for good benefits. They put a lot of their time and energy and made sacrifices on pay and other things to get good health care. And so we have to recognize that and say, ‘Okay, well how do we reconcile that?’”
What do you want your constituents to know most about AB 1400?
“I want them to know that this is about making sure that everyone in our community, every neighbor, everyone has health care...We can be unemployed next week, something can happen that's catastrophic. You just never know and so, think about other families that go through those situations. GoFundMe should not be a healthcare safety net.”
How would single payer benefit high-tech, Silicon Valley businesses such as those in your district?
“...the tech industry would benefit so much because we have really good quality employers here in Silicon Valley that give really good health care to their employees as part of the benefits package...They can save a lot of money and focus on other things they can give to incentivize employees, right? So they can give better wages, they can give more paid sick leave or vacation days.”
What do you bring with you to the fight for single payer?
“My goal in my public service is very simple. It’s to reduce suffering. I see way too much suffering in our healthcare system. But I see practical things, too, like my father has been on Medicare now for over a dozen years. He has had the same provider, the same doctor, cardio...Nothing's changed. Just who's paying changed. Right? It tells you right there that this is very possible if we want it to be possible.”
Get Involved / Take Action
Join the CalCare Campaign to pass AB1400, the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act
Join Health Care for All California to keep up with local actions in your area
Subscribe to HEAL California for health policy news with a California focus
Join Healthy California Now - individual and organizational membership available
Join Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) to join the national campaign
“CalCare” Press Release, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, Feb 19, 2021
“CalCare” Bill Text: AB 1400, Guaranteed Health Care for All (California State Assembly)
Analysis: How For-Profit Health Care Worsened the Pandemic (Public Citizen)
Community Voices: Priorities & Preferences of Californians with Low Incomes (Healthy California for All Commission)
Healthcare Financing Considerations, (UC Berkeley Labor Center for Healthy California for All Commission) (Starting on slide 9)