Video by Tad Barker, Luke Thibault, Jess Wheelock, and Connary Fagen
Join East Bay DSA to Fight for California Single-Payer Healthcare!
East Bay DSA is organizing block-by-block to build a mass movement for California single-payer healthcare. Since our campaign kick-off on February 25, we've trained more than 250 canvassers to knock on their neighbors doors, bring in more volunteers, and spread the word about SB 562, the Healthy California Act, which would establish a single-payer healthcare system in California.
East Bay DSA members and supporters have knocked on thousands of doors in the East Bay, resulting in more than 1,600 people pledging their support for single-payer. But we're not stopping there. We're in this for the long haul, which means we're going to keep holding big canvass events to train ordinary people who are ready to fight for healthcare as a human right. If you believe in a just healthcare system that puts people over profit, join us!
Across the state, California DSA chapters have joined The Campaign for a Healthy California, a coalition of more than 50 labor and grassroots groups led by the California Nurses Association in support of the Healthy California Act, SB 562, which would make California single-payer healthcare a reality (text of the bill).
What Is Single-Payer Healthcare?
Single-payer healthcare guarantees full coverage to all California residents and protects healthcare as a human right. All healthcare would be covered — doctors visits, prescriptions, procedures, mental health, vision, and dental — with zero co-pays, deductibles, or premiums. Moreover, all California residents would be covered, regardless of age, income, or preexisting conditions, or marital, work, or immigration status.
Under a single-payer system, 95 percent of Californians would stand to get better care at lower overall costs. Currently, 30 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare goes in the pockets of insurance companies. A single-payer system would save money by eliminating shareholder profit needs and by creating greater leverage to negotiate prices with providers and pharmaceutical companies. Check out this FAQ on how single-payer works in general.
Past legislative efforts for California single-payer have come very close. The unprecedented grassroots campaign for Prop. 186 in 1994, though defeated by the for-profit insurance industry, set the stage for future efforts such as SB 840, which passed in 2006 and 2008 but was vetoed by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger both times. It was reintroduced as SB 810 in 2010, and in 2011 it came within a hair of passing. This year, with Republicans threatening to attack healthcare nationally, we have the momentum to make single-payer healthcare a reality in California.
How Does Single-Payer Healthcare Relate to Socialism and the DSA?
As socialists, we believe that quality healthcare should be provided to all, regardless of income, employment, or citizenship status. That is why we have joined the Campaign for a Healthy California coalition to fight for a single-payer system, which will decommodify health insurance and guarantee healthcare as a right to every resident of California.
But here's the thing: this won't be easy. The previous efforts for California single-payer have failed because business interests, which make exorbitant profits off of private insurance (read: off of our healthcare!), fought tooth and nail to kill them. In this campaign, you can bet they're going to do the same. They'll spread false information and sow fear (sound familiar?) so that they can keep profiting from life-saving medical care that should be guaranteed as a human right. That's why it's crucial to rally together and build support block by block, community by community. If enough of us get involved, we can beat the insurance industry and make healthcare a human right in California.
The best part: by fighting for single-payer this year, we will be training cohorts of confident socialist organizers and leaders, who in turn will activate hundreds and thousands of volunteers. We can engage millions of Californians around left politics and build our capacities to win even bigger victories in the future on issues that seriously impact the working class, like housing, education, and immigration.
Prepping materials for our canvassing soft launch in February
What Have We Done So Far?
The East Bay DSA has gotten active and mobilized quickly, thanks to the energy and dedication of all of our members.
On February 3, East Bay DSA co-chair Jeremy Gong sat on a "Resisting Trump in California" panel alongside editor and founder of Jacobin Magazine, Bhaskar Sunkara, and Stephanie Schwartz of the International Socialist Organization. In addition to making clear that opposition to Trump must happen from the left, the speakers emphasized that, by building a mass movement and rallying around campaigns like single-payer healthcare, California can lead the way for the rest of the nation.
We began this campaign with a soft launch on February 11, to test out our material and train members who would then take on training roles themselves. Thirty-five of our members came out to begin canvassing for single-payer healthcare. Since this soft launch, many of our members have taken on more active roles in organizing: helping to train other canvassers, welcoming in new members, and launching council district–based canvassing teams.
We've hosted four large community canvasses on single payer and sent more than 30 members to Sacramento for the Senate Health Committee vote on the bill. With so many members invigorated, we're eager to see people jump into action and continue building momentum behind our movement.
How to Get Involved
The campaign for California single-payer healthcare is heating up. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate in these upcoming events. If you want to hear more about upcoming events and opportunities related to our single-payer healthcare campaign, join East Bay DSA.