Analysis by Reporting San Diego
June 24, 2017 (San Diego) Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon effectively killed single payer this year in California. The announcement was a classic Friday Night news dump, as this was announced at five in the afternoon. California Nurses United called this act cowardly on their website. They are one of the sponsors.
The group also stated: “Acting in secret in the interests of the profiteering insurance companies late Friday afternoon abandons all those people already threatened by Congress and the Trump administration.”
Why would Rendon act this way in a progressive state? Why would he do this when the federal government is about to destroy Medi-Cal as well? He is a Democrat, right? He is a progressive right? He gave reasons for this in the news release. These were as follows:
“As someone who has long been a supporter of single payer, I am encouraged by the conversation begun by Senate Bill 562.
“However, SB 562 was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete. Even senators who voted for SB 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump Administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation.
“In light of this, I have decided SB 562 will remain in the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice.
However, there may be more to it. As the movie All The President’s Men stated, follow the money. The companies that gave money to protect the status quo are among some of the most powerful health insurers in the country. According to David Sirota writing for the International Business Times:
Since the 2010 election, the 24 lawmakers on the two California legislative committees that will consider the single-payer legislation have collectively received more than $819,000 in donations from the industry groups that are officially opposing the measure. The cash haul includes more than $80,000 to the chairmen of the Assembly and Senate health committees, the latter of which is set to consider the legislation at a public hearing Wednesday.
The report he speaks off is the state website. These are the groups that opposed the bill:
- America’s Health Insurance Plans
- Anthem Blue Cross Association of California
- Insurance Companies Association of California
- Life & Health Insurance Companies Bay Area Council
- BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation
- Blue Shield of California California Association of Health Plans
- California Association of Health Underwriters
- California Business Roundtable
- California Chamber of Commerce
- California Farm Bureau Federation
- California Framing Contractors Association
- California League of Food Processors
- California Manufacturers & Technology Association
- California Medical Association
- California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors
- California Retailers Association
- California Taxpayers Association
- California Trucking Association
- Camarillo Chamber of Commerce
- El Centro Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau
- Fresno Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
- Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce
- Health Net Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
- Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California
- Kaiser Permanente
- Long Beach Chamber of Commerce
- Molina Healthcare
- Murrieta Chamber of Commerce
- National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of California
- National Federation of Independent Business
- North Orange County Chamber of Commerce
- Oceanside Chamber of Commerce
- Orange County Business Council Oxnard Chamber of Commerce
- Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau
- Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
- South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce Southwest
- California Legislative Council
- Torrance Chamber of Commerce
- Valley Industry and Commerce Association
- Western Growers Association Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce
A single player would damage many of their direct interests. So no surprised they poured money into this. And if you wonder why the Governor, who once was a clear supporter of single payer, now opposes it, there are reasons for that. They are in dollars and cents. He, Rendon, and Senate President Kevin de Leon have received $370,000 dollars, while both parties have received $2.2 million dollars.
The arguments for a single payer system are numerous. They would benefit the state economy, as well as make the state even more competitive. We also know that the majority of the country supports single payer. According to Gallup, it is 58 percent as of May of 2016.
Moreover, the trend line from PEW shows that the number of Americans supporting it is increasing. Now it is up to 60 percent.
Why are politicians not doing what Americans are demanding? Part of it is they fear no retribution from the voters. The second is that quite frankly, politicians have not been responsive to voters for some time. There are a few theories, and one of them is money.
Many Americans think that the origin of this system is with Citizens United. It is not. The origin is with Buckley v Valeo, which started to gnaw at the post-Watergate era limits omniscience’s political donation. That is the point where the Supreme Court started to give corporations a first amendment right.
The United States has rarely functioned in a responsive way to the regular citizen. Powerful interests, whether these were the railroad barons, or modern day banking and health care companies, have controlled both parties. To a large extent, it has taken the concerted and organized action of citizens groups to turn the ship of state. Some of these fights have been generational.
It does not matter that most Americans want a single payer system. Or for that matter hat most Californians want it, or that it will benefit the state. Some very powerful interests will continue to sink massive amounts of money into the political system. It is a form of bribery, legalized and all. Those people donating those funds expect a return on investment. A couple million here or there is just the cost of doing business.
What will it take? Patience and organization. But also an awareness that yes, our politicians can and are bought regularly.
The decision of Speaker Rendon also saves people from having to vote for a bill that may or may not have been ready for prime time. The reality is we will never know.
If you have read this far, consider making a donation to help support independent journalism. We have not put a paywall. But we need your help to continue this work. In this new era, there are more hurdles than before to continue to be an independent voice.