Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Welcome to Code WACK!

featuring host Brenda Gazzar


Shining a light on America's callous healthcare system

and what we can do about it.


Now streaming on Nurse Talk Media and Progressive Voices!


Powered by HEAL California


Nov 22, 2021

Check out Code WACK!’s latest illuminating podcast, the first of two featuring Assemblyman Ash Kalra discussing his healthcare legislation AB 1400, California Health Care for All 


Show Notes 


California Medicare for All?

Assemblyman Ash Kalra is all in! 

What’s California’s latest single-payer bill all about? Get the facts from its author, California Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), who introduced AB 1400, California Health Care for All (also known as CalCare), in early 2021. 


Why did Kalra introduce AB 1400? For one thing, he believes health care is a human right. 

Click here for podcast transcript

Click here for Ash Kalra’s biography 


How would the bill improve our health care? It would provide Californians comprehensive health coverage as well as dental, vision, hearing, substance abuse, mental health and long-term care regardless of employment, marital, financial or immigrant status.

“For too long, we've been denying this human right, either outright to people who don't have health care, or in effect for those who don't have meaningful access to health care,” Kalra says.


Why now? The stars have aligned politically to create a more favorable environment to make single-payer, Medicare for All a reality.

“We not only are in the midst of a devastating pandemic... but also we have a governor that's supportive. We have a supermajority of Democrats in the California Legislature. And we have the election of President (Joe) Biden, which now gives us an opportunity to make the case to the Department of Health Human Services to allow for federal waivers (needed to have a single-payer system),” Kalra says.


What’s Kalra doing to advance the legislation? The Toronto-born lawmaker launched a study and lobbying tour across the U.S. and Canada in October. He met with congressional members in Washington DC and with officials in the Department of Health & Human Services. And while in Canada, he learned that each Canadian province has its own unique single-payer system.

“Quebec covers pharmaceuticals....No other province does. When I was in Ontario, you can sense some of that regret that they hadn't done that sooner….In Toronto, between the ages of 25 and 65, there's no coverage for pharmaceuticals and that's a big gap in coverage for Canadian residents in Ontario, and in every other province except for Quebec.”


Why go for state-based single-payer instead of federal Medicare for All? 

“Ultimately if the United States of America is going to get a single-payer type system, it’s got to start in the states and I think it allows the states to develop a system that works for each individual state, their population, and their economy,” Kalra says.


So what’s the latest on the bill’s progress? Kalra expects the bill to be heard after lawmakers convene in January 2022. He actually held back the CalCare bill in early 2021 because it was not likely to get the votes it needed in the policy committees. But he expects the bill not only be referred to the relevant policy committees in the upcoming session but that there will be a vigorous debate over the bill. 

I'm very hopeful that my colleagues will understand the urgency of the moment that we need to move forward,” Kalra says.

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


Helpful Links

“CalCare” Press Release, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, Feb 19, 2021

“CalCare” Bill Text: AB 1400, Guaranteed Health Care for All (California State Assembly)

International Health Care System Profiles: Canada, The Commonwealth Fund

Health Reform Via State Waiver, Bill of Health (Harvard Law, Petrie Flom Center Blog)