California Nurses Move Their ‘Medicare-for-all’ Fight to the National Stage

October 30, 2018

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Source: Sacramento Bee

The union representing 100,000 nurses across California has shifted its “Medicare-for-all” campaign from California to the national stage, perhaps relieving political pressure on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom to fulfill what the union sees as his top campaign promise: Delivering a single-payer health care system in the nation’s largest state.

The California Nurses Association, which led the coalition behind the high-profile 2017 push for a single-payer system, has re-branded its campaign with the slogan “Fight to Win Medicare-for-All!” Its social media feeds reflect the new national scope of their efforts.

Until this month, the coalition, previously called “Campaign for a Healthy California,” was focused solely on passing a single-payer health care bill in California. Their campaign reached a fervor in late 2017 and early 2018, when nurses and single-payer activists stormed the California Democratic Party convention and later, the state Capitol, calling on Democratic lawmakers to approve their single-payer bill.

Representatives for the union, joined by its parent organization, National Nurses United, are now expanding their efforts to Congress and other states, such as Florida, Maine, Minnesota and Texas. They say they’re not letting up in California.

The union representing 100,000 nurses across California has shifted its “Medicare-for-all” campaign from California to the national stage, perhaps relieving political pressure on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom to fulfill what the union sees as his top campaign promise: Delivering a single-payer health care system in the nation’s largest state.

The California Nurses Association, which led the coalition behind the high-profile 2017 push for a single-payer system, has re-branded its campaign with the slogan “Fight to Win Medicare-for-All!” Its social media feeds reflect the new national scope of their efforts.

Until this month, the coalition, previously called “Campaign for a Healthy California,” was focused solely on passing a single-payer health care bill in California. Their campaign reached a fervor in late 2017 and early 2018, when nurses and single-payer activists stormed the California Democratic Party convention and later, the state Capitol, calling on Democratic lawmakers to approve their single-payer bill.

Representatives for the union, joined by its parent organization, National Nurses United, are now expanding their efforts to Congress and other states, such as Florida, Maine, Minnesota and Texas. They say they’re not letting up in California.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has blasted the idea of single-payer as an expensive fantasy for Democrats.

“In practice, the Democratic Party’s so-called Medicare for All would really be Medicare for None,” Trump wrote in a USA Today editorial earlier this month. Large portions of it have been widely discredited as false and misleading.

Critics say the nurses’ move could aid efforts underway to steer the next governor and the Legislature away from single-payer.

“It may…clear some space for more constructive discussions about how to achieve universal health care,” said Ned Wigglesworth, a political strategist working with doctor and hospital groups to oppose state single-payer efforts.

Newsom has acknowledged the political and financial challenges he’d face should he and others lawmakers decide to push for a single-payer system.

“We need partners in the federal government, so I’m not Pollyannaish about any of this. I’m a hard-headed pragmatist about it,” Newsom said in an interview last month.

Still, he said, “I do believe single-payer financing, as broadly defined in (a) “Medicare-for-all” type system, is an advantageous system compared to our multi-payer system, and I’m deeply engaged in figuring out the how…I’m not walking away from this.”

He said ultimately, his goal is “universal health care, regardless of pre-existing condition, ability to pay, immigration status.”

Nurses are not letting up. The unions say universal health care — extending coverage to everyone — alone does not go far enough. Universal health care can be achieved through a single-payer financing system, or under California’s current multi-payer system.

“We are absolutely aware of what appears to be waffling with respect to Newsom’s stance on single-payer,” Roberson said. “But we are going to hold him to what we know to be the case, which is if there is a single-payer bill — which there will be in the state of California — that gets to his desk, he will sign it and we will hold him to that.”

 

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