Nurses applaud introduction of CalCare bill to implement a single-payer system in California

Renewing its commitment to the larger fight for health care justice, the California Nurses Association (CNA) is pleased to sponsor Assembly Bill 1400 (Kalra), the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act (CalCare), which would guarantee comprehensive, high-quality health care to all California residents as a human right. The establishment of the CalCare program is an improved Medicare for All-type health care system.

Despite the gains made under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 3 million Californians have no health insurance, while millions more have insurance that they can’t afford to use because their copays and deductibles are too high. Meanwhile, for-profit insurance companies are reporting record-breaking profits, even while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage California and medical bankruptcies are at an all time high.

Sponsored by CNA and authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, AB 1400 will ensure that all Californians, regardless of employment, income, immigration status, race, gender, or any other considerations, can get the health care they need, free at the point of service.

“From our experiences caring for patients, we nurses have known the need for and fought for decades for everyone to have guaranteed health care through a system like CalCare,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN and executive director of California Nurses Association and the national nursing organization with which it is affiliated, National Nurses United. “The Covid pandemic has just underscored the desperate societal need for this program NOW. CalCare will ensure that public health is the priority of our health care system, not making a buck for insurance corporations.”

CNA nurses have been at the forefront of the fight to guarantee health care as a right for all Californians since 1994, when they led the charge for Prop. 186, a ballot measure that would have implemented a single-payer system in California. Since then, nurses have continued to advocate for guaranteed health care for all, knowing all too well the failings that come with a health care system that places profits ahead of patients. 

“Thank you to Assemblymember Kalra for his leadership in proposing CalCare, a program that will transform the lives of all people in California, bringing them security, stability, and health care as the human right we all agree it is,” said Stephanie Roberson, government relations director for California Nurses Association. 

Most recently, CNA launched the campaign to win CalCare with a day of action on Feb.  6, working with volunteers throughout California to host 23 car caravans throughout the state, which attracted more than a thousand participants in total.

The CalCare program would be a truly transformative change to California’s health care system. In addition to guaranteeing health care to all Californians, it would save families and businesses thousands in annual health care costs by cutting out the bloat, waste, and inefficiencies of our fragmented, for-profit insurance system.

Californians overwhelmingly support the transition to a single-payer health care system: 57 percent of all Californians supported replacing private insurance with guaranteed coverage provided by the government  — even before the Covid-19 pandemic caused millions of Californians to lose their jobs and employer-provided health insurance. 

“A single-payer health system represents the belief that health care is truly a human right. Our current system results in unjust outcomes and these inequities are underscored especially now, exacerbating economic downturns for working families who have lost their income and meaningful access to health care,” said Assemblymember Ash Kalra. “We will have a long fight ahead in fixing our broken system, but this bill will set us on a real path towards a single-payer system and affirms the policy that would save lives, decrease suffering, and improve public health in California.”