Watch this video addressing Black inequality in U.S. healthcare
We will never win major healthcare reform without addressing healthcare inequality. There will be no victory without the engagement and empowerment of communities that suffer from actual existing healthcare disparities in the U.S.
A new “CalCare” spot bill, AB 1690, will be introduced by CA Assemblymember Ash Kalra
PANA will once again join ground-game forces to pressure legislators to advance this “single-payer” bill to the Governor’s desk in 2024.
Fierce, dogged organizing by nurses and our community allies is the reason why CalCare advanced through the Assembly Health and Appropriations committees last session and why CalCare is on the table again,” said Puneet Maharaj, California Nurses Association’s government relations director. “The billion-dollar insurance industry will come forward with their lies, complaints, and army of lobbyists but nurses see every day why Californians desperately need CalCare. We have the facts and the people behind us. In partnership with Assemblymember Kalra, who has shown his dedication to CalCare, we’re ready to take on corporations who stand against health justice
According to polling published in October 2021, 65% of Californians with low-incomes support the establishment of a “single-payer” health care system that provides comprehensive care for all.
PANA will advocate that such a major reform measure should insure everyone in the state, regardless of employment or immigration status and explicitly addresses healthcare inequality that is integral to the current for-profit only system.
Build grassroots power to win AB 1690
The California Nurses Association (CNA), affiliated with National Nurses United, has played a key role in keeping the fight for CalCare alive, along with many grass-roots, “ground game” organizations such as PANA and Save Our Seniors Network and the many voters who delivered a CA Presidential Primary victory to Senator Bernie Sanders in 2020. The union of 100,000 registered nurses, in partnership with Kalra, plans to continue growing support for this effort, both inside and outside of the state’s capitol.
“California nurses are renewing our fight to put health care back in the hands of people, not the insurance companies hunting for their next buck,” said California Nurses Association President Sandy Reding. “With an even larger Democratic supermajority this session, there are no excuses for Sacramento to deny Californians guaranteed health care through CalCare. Nurses look forward to working with Assemblymember Kalra to build support for a single-payer health care system that puts patients above profits.”
As we have in previous rounds of this ongoing fight, PANA members will continue to educate members of various Asian American and Pacific Islander communities about the need to support this important struggle which will impact all families. To win this fight to defeat the for-profit interests of the powerful healthcare insurers and big pharmaceutical industry, we must engage broader numbers of people to address existing inequalities in the healthcare system. AB 1690, must address the specific cultural and linguistic needs of these communities, the majority of whom are immigrant and working-class.
Following the victorious 11-3 vote in the CA Assembly Committee on Health on January 11, AB 1400 now advances to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, to be heard in a non-public session on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
In preparation for the Appropriations hearing, PANA member Steven Gibson initiated a meeting with the staff of Appropriations Chair, Chris Holden (AD 41). Holden was “not able to attend the meeting” but constituents from AD 41 and a diverse group of community representatives shared various reasons for why AB 1400 should be supported by the committee and advanced to a floor vote by January 31.
The constituents and community advocates spoke passionately about various reasons for Holden to support AB 1400:
Teachers and mothers described how kids in Pasadena will directly benefit as a result of this bill.
It was pointed out how Asian immigrants and especially elderly Asians and Pacific Islanders will benefit since they have high percentages of seniors and bilingual needs.
Healthcare organizers described how the nurses and healthcare workers in major local hospitals around Pasadena are strong supporters of AB 1400 since their union is one of the initiators of the bill. About 2,500 nurses at Huntington Memorial, Arcadia Methodist, and San Gabriel Valley Med. Center are represented or affiliated with the CA Nurses Association.
Steven Gibson, Democrats of Foothill Pasadena, Progressive Asian Network for Action – Coordinating Committee, 41st AD delegate.
David Monkawa, Save Our Seniors Network, Progressive Asian Network for Action, Past Organizing Dir. with the CA Nurses Assoc. directed union organizing drives at Pasadena’s
Huntington Memorial and built citywide healthcare coalition.
Tina Fredericks, Former teacher and activist with Pasadena Unified School District, and Democratic Party delegate with 41st AD.
Max Cottrell, CA Nurses Assoc. Organizer, the CA Nurses Assoc. represents about 2,500 nurses and healthcare workers who work in AD 41.
Julie McKune, retired teacher Pasadena Unified Scholl District, League of Women Voters – Assembly Delegate with 41st AD
Mindy Pfeiffer, retired teacher, Assembly Delegate for 41st AD.
Kevin Mulligan, Chief of Staff, Assemblyperson Chris Holden, 41st Assembly District
The Asian American community is experiencing an upsurge in hate crimes due to scapegoating of Chinese people as being the cause of the pandemic. Racist violence is not a new thing for Asian Americans as discrimination has been a historical condition – not just on the streets, but through systemic racism, including disparities in healthcare.
In 2018, 25 percent of Korean Americans and 20 percent of Vietnamese Americans had no health coverage. The Affordable Care Act helped alleviate those numbers, but no updates have been conducted after millions lost their jobs and insurance during the pandemic. Asian American data research is lacking and facts, such as 69% of the Thai American community being uninsured, are not well known.
In 2019, the leading cause of death among Asian Americans aged 15-24 was suicide. To this day, suicide is still among the top causes of death for young Asian Americans. In the U.S., this is true for no other racial group in the same age range. The mental healthcare system is inadequate and inaccessible to many.
Last year, over 80 Japanese American seniors in a Los Angeles intermediate care facility were evicted from their home because the corporate owner wanted to convert it to market-rate apartments. Even against the pleas of 10 licensed physicians, the CA government did not keep them safe during the pandemic. No other intermediate care facilities in the U.S. have the same level of Japanese-speaking staff and culturally-appropriate services.
Assembly Bill 1400 would provide groups facing healthcare disparities the help they need. The bill would create a single payer healthcare system that would cover all Californians regardless of citizenship, age, income, or employment status.
Under AB 1400, young people can access mental health services and elders can receive bilingual and bi-cultural healthcare. Non-English speaking people can have difficulty explaining their problems to medical staff, especially if they’re under duress. Doctors and nurses who only know a Western viewpoint, may not know how to communicate with patients of different cultures.
Hate crime victims and their families will no longer need to launch GoFundMe pages to pay for medical treatment due to lack of health coverage.
California has 85 percent of Democratic voters who support a single payer system and 61 percent of voters of various political views support it. The public support for AB1400 is there because the need exists. Our current governor was elected partially because he pledged to support single-payer reform. To have 3.2 million Californians without healthcare insurance in our wealthy state is a travesty.
AB1400 will be the safety net for our most vulnerable communities who are suffering in silence due to healthcare racism and inequality. This is why members of the Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA) back this bill and urge you to vote “Aye” for AB 1400, which will save many lives.
Tsukuru Fors, Reggie Wong and Taiji Miyagawa share experiences from their work to win healthcare-for-all, including AB 1400 in CA.
How efforts by PANA to address the larger issue of inequality faced by Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are an example of how to build a broader, more diverse and powerful grassroots movement to win the change we all need: