California Nurses and Anthony Rendon are Still Sparring Over Single-Payer Bill

Time has not healed all wounds between Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and the California Nurses Association.

Rendon, a Paramount Democrat, infuriated the nurses last June when he abruptly shelvedSenate Bill 562, the measure they sponsored to create a government-run universal health care system in California, calling it “woefully incomplete.”

Raucous protests against Rendon ensued at the Capitol. So did death threats and promises of a recall. Both sides pledged to keep working on the issue to get California to universal health care – but six months later, neither is satisfied with what the other has been doing.

Rendon, who called a series of informational hearings in the Assembly over the interim, swiped at the nurses as the Legislature reconvened two weeks ago. Asked about SB 562 at a press conference, he said that none of his significant concerns about funding, service delivery mechanisms or a federal waiver had been addressed.

“Absolutely nothing has happened with the bill,” he said. “The sponsors of the bill have sat on their hands and done nothing for the past six months. None of the authors have made any significant amendments. We’re looking for all the same things in 562 that we were looking for six months ago.”

The nurses association, which has accused Rendon of stalling SB 562 on behalf of health care industry donors that do not want a “single-payer” system, did not take kindly to the harsh assessment. In a tweet, executive director RoseAnn DeMoro blasted “corporate Democrat” Rendon for “pushing alternative facts.”

The union says it has canvassed all 80 Assembly districts in California, holding events and knocking on more than 6,000 doors to build support for the measure. It also points to 17 amendments, prepared shortly before SB 562 was held in committee and never heard publicly, which it says would address many of the shortcomings Rendon has cited – though not all, notably how to pay for the program.

They would love to sit down and hammer out the remaining details, the nurses says, but Assembly officials won’t meet with them. A spokesman for Rendon said he’d be happy to meet when they have substantive solutions to propose.

Don’t expect a détente any time soon: The Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage has its third hearing at 1 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol, and the nurses association will rally on the north steps at 11 a.m. urging Rendon to let SB 562 move forward through the legislative process.

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