Saturday, February 5, 2011

Single Payer in California

Amadorians join hundreds at Capitol demanding state health care reform.
Mike and I with our nifty banner.
The above link is the Amador Ledger Dispatch coverage the presence of Amador County residents at a January 10th rally in support of California Senate Bill SB 810.
The rally, organized as part of the California Health Professional Student Alliance’s “Student Lobby Day” attempted to pressure State legislatures to support the bill on the same day as Governor Jerry Brown released his budget proposals, which included a $1.7 billion cut to Medi-Cal, which provides means tested health insurance to low income residents.

Mike and I marched with some five-hundred students and supporters to the steps of the State Capital, where several other Amador progressives met us. SB 810 would provide health insurance to all Californians, regardless of means, while lowering the net costs of healthcare by eliminated corporate overhead. It nonetheless remains controversial, particularly in Republican dominated regions like Amador County. Here I hope to refute two popular arguments against Single Payer while demonstrating its importance to rural working families.

1) Single Payer is not socialized medicine, as it does not seek to establish a state monopoly over institutions that provide medical services. A better term would be “socialized insurance” in that it simply would replace health insurance corporations with a “single payer” of public funds. The government will not be running healthcare; it will just be providing access to it.

2) We frequently hear stories about the horrors of “socialized medicine” (actually single payer) in Canada. The results of a 2003 Gallup poll would therefore come as a surprise to many California residents, reporting that 17% of Canadians were dissatisfied with their healthcare compared to 44% of Americans, and that 57% were satisfied with their healthcare as opposed to 25% of U.S. citizens.

The Nebraska based Center for Rural Affairs noted in a 2004 report that rural residents were more likely to be uninsured than those living in urban areas. This they attributed to the inability of small businesses (widespread employers within rural economies) to afford health benefits, as well as the dominance of low wage service sector employees (Wal-Mart being a prime example in Amador and Tuolumne Counties). A 1997 study by the National Survey of America’s Families found that rural individuals were 12% more likely than those in urban areas to be either uninsured or on some form of public insurance, and that was before the recession. Moreover, healthcare facilities are scattered sparsely across the country landscape, compounding medical care costs with long ambulance rides.

Rural residents are among those in most need of universal healthcare coverage, and progressives within the Mother Lode and any other backcountry region in California need to be aware of this fact.

A note on our banner: This is an inversion of sorts of Tea Party iconography. Tyranny does not reside solely within government, but dwells in any power that attempts to force its own interests over the interests of the majority. There is no greater tyrant in contemporary America than the corporation, a body that governs everything from food production to healthcare with no accountability to the people whatsoever, and should therefore be opposed by all who claim belief in individual liberty.
Students and Healthcare workers rallying on steps.
Further Reading:

California OneCare: Campaign For SB 810 – Single Payer Universal Health Care

Ormand, Barbara, Stephen Zuckermen, and Aparna Lhila. "Rural/Urban Differences in Health Care Are Not Uniform Across States." The Urban Institute
Research of Record. 01 May 200. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.

Seshamani, Meena, and Joan Nostrand. "Hard Times in the Heartland: Health Care in Rural America." Health Reform. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.


  1. Thank you for starting this blog.

  2. Excellent start and looking forward to more.

  3. Glad to see more of the "other side of the story" and glad you took the initiative to start a blog.