SAN JOSE, CA — The new government’s naked attempts to dismantle health care are galvanizing resistance across the country. The people are in a life-and-death struggle to make our government work for the people it is supposed to represent.
On January 27, 1,000 Californians confronted U.S. Republican House Majority Whip, Keven McCarthy, at his home office in Bakersfield. In the forefront were farm workers, domestic workers, nurses and clinic workers of the Central Valley. They were backed up by busloads of nurses, doctors, teachers, youth, retirees, and service workers from all over the state. Over 60 union and community organizations crowded into McCarthy’s courtyard to stop his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and shrink Medicaid and Medicare.
His door remained closed—but he can’t hide any more!
Amid chants of “Healthcare Is a Human Right,” “Everybody In, Nobody Out,”, and “Medicare for All” speakers expressed fear and outrage that health care, just won, could be taken away along with 200,000 good community jobs. “It is not fair,” said Julie Otero of United Domestic Workers. She is worried that with two life-threatening lung diseases she might not live to care for her children and her mother.
Dr. Paul Song, an oncologist and co-chair of the Campaign for a Healthy California, and Sandy Redding, local emergency room nurse, described daily tragedies of people unable to afford preventive care, screenings and medications, who are in the end stages of deadly conditions such as cancer, diabetes, lung and heart disease.
Shamefully, 51 percent of Kevin’s constituents depend on the very programs he vows to cut. What kind of representation is that? Where do humanity, fairness and justice come in? Central Valley fields still bring in $35 billion a year and provide more of the nation’s food than any other state. Yet, profits are dependent on exploitation of farm workers who endure poverty wages, grueling, back-breaking work, unhealthy conditions, exposure to pesticides, bad air, and food insecurity.
California’s Medicaid Expansion has gone a long way in covering low income families. We as a state are covering undocumented children, and were working on a waiver to allow their parents to purchase from the exchange.
On February 1, 1,300 more people gathered in San Francisco for a hearing about rising costs of medicine and insurance. Finally, in 2015, we had won legislation to allow us to “pull the curtain back” on medical price gouging.
Workers testified that rising drug and insurance costs are negating any cost-of-living increases they can win. Retirees like Bob Sigala of Gilroy spoke of having to choose which life-saving medication to do without.
Shelly Hadelman Douglass, a retired critical care nurse, declared, “Insurance Companies Have had their Chance, Now it is Time for Single Payer.” She told of a 7 year-old needing a lung transplant not done in California, and although a Houston hospital will do it, Blue Shield will not cover it, “out of network.” Another, clearly distraught retired nurse said patient care should not be based on their ability to pay—but on their need!
California is going for Improved, Expanded Medicare for All. Stay tuned!