NUHW leaders gather to support Medicare For All

April 25th, 2017

NUHW leaders from the Kaiser Integrated Behavioral Health Services and Optical chapters joined hundreds of their neighbors at a community meeting at the Maidu Community Center in Roseville on March 26 to discuss SB 562, the Healthy California Act. Another NUHW delegation rallied in Sacramento on April 26 in support of the bill.

NUHW is among a broad array of labor and community groups leading the fight for SB 562, which would create a single-payer healthcare system for California.

Introduced in February by state Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, SB 562 would create a statewide single-payer Medicare For All system. Passing the law would mean the establishment of a comprehensive and accessible healthcare system for all Californians, regardless of employment or immigration status. In a single-payer health system, one entity — a public agency — pays all the medical bills.

“As frontline providers in mental health, we can testify to just how important Obamacare has been because it expanded coverage to the most vulnerable, while at the same time we also know that Obamacare did not go far enough,” said IBHS steward and Sacramento mental health clinician Jane Kostka. “That’s why we need a truly comprehensive, single-payer system like that being discussed today, represented by SB 562.”

The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction. But because it was built around the private insurance industry and its high deductibles and co-payments and limited hospital networks, the ACA still prevents people from accessing both medical and mental health treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has documented that insurers’ denials of coverage for mental health care are twice as high as denials for medical care, driving patients and their families into complex regulatory mazes and appeal systems.

With a single-payer system, we would be able to conduct community-based health needs assessments, which would enable us to direct resources to communities where they are most needed. These assessments would also demonstrate the nature and depth of often-overlooked mental and behavioral health problems in every community so that we could finally provide appropriate mental health care to those who need it.

By eliminating the profit motive, a single-payer system would enable providers to focus on achieving quality outcomes rather than cutting costs. It would also allow us to better monitor quality of care, streamline national health data collection to guide research, and develop better practice guidelines. SB 562 would also enable us to develop highly skilled healthcare workers by creating career ladders, establishing retraining opportunities, and engaging in continual workforce planning.

Join us on Friday, May 19 as we rally with hundreds of advocates from throughout the state to lobby for SB 562 in Sacramento. Please contact NUHW Political Director Kim Tavaglione at ktavaglione@nuhw.org for more information.

To sign up for updates and join the campaign, visit healthycaliforniaact.org.

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NUHW members and staff rallied in Sacramento in support of SB 562.