Southern Californians March and Rally in Downtown Los Angeles for Universal Healthcare in California

29 Mar
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Supporters for Healthcare for all, on Sunday, March 26, on their way to L.A. City Hall; Photo by Barry Saks

More than 200 people, many of them who work in healthcare or are retired, marched from Pershing Square to the Los Angeles City Hall, on Sunday, March 26, in support of California Senate Bill 562, titled Californians for a Healthy California Act, which supporters call universal healthcare or single payer.

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Pilar Schiavo speaking to supporters, on Sunday, March 26, before marching; Photo by Barry Saks

At Pershing Square, Pilar Schiavo, who works for the California Nurses Association, led the crowd with some chants, using a rolled-up poster as a bullhorn.  One chant was “Medicare for all is our fight.  Healthcare is a human right.”  Another chant was “California here we come.  Five-six-two, let’s get it done.”  A third chant was “Everybody in, nobody out.  Five-six-two is what we’re about.”

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Supporters of Healthcare for all, Sunday, March 26, crossing the street between Grand Park and the backside of L.A. City Hall; Photo by Barry Saks

The crowd then chanted and marched to the backside of L.A. City Hall, across from Grand Park.  Some chants not done at Pershing Square but could be heard from the marchers were “Show me what democracy looks like.  This is what democracy looks like,” “We are the 99 percent,” “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Healthcare greed has to go” and “The people united will never be divided.”

Schiavo emceed the rally at City Hall.

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California State Senator Ricardo Lara, on Sunday, March 26, speaking to supporters; Photo by Barry Saks

California Senator Lara said, “We know healthcare is a human right for everyone, regardless of where you come from…. Other countries have done this…. I am proud to say I’m taking a group of (California) Senators to Canada over the next couple of weeks so they can see firsthand what Canada is doing to provide coverage for everyone.”  After speaking in English, he spoke to the crowd in Spanish.

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Fong Chuu, on March 26, speaking at L.A. City Hall

After the Senator, Registered Nurse Fong Chuu spoke.  Chuu said she is in charge of the Liver Transplant Program at UCLA Medical Center and member of the CNA and added, “Here in Los Angeles we have the worst record in all of California in the preventable hospital stays.  Those are hospitalizations that are the direct result of people not being able to afford medical treatment until their conditions become crisis…. Nurses see patients that suffer stroke or heart failure (and) …. (n)urses in operating rooms see patients that end up having a limb amputated because of untreated diabetes all because they cannot afford to see a doctor…. Even with the ACA (Affordable Care Act) many Californians still cannot afford to use the insurance they have because of the high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.”

After Chuu, Jenni Chang urged the crowd to call and lobby the members of the Senate Health Committee in support SB 562.

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Clifford Monroe, on Sunday, March 26, making a point to a friend at Pershing Square, Los Angeles; Photo by Barry Saks

Before the march, Clifford Monroe, 68, who’s from Mission Viejo, which is in in Orange County, was at Pershing Square.  Monroe said he was there to support the bill and that he believed healthcare should be a human right.  Monroe said a discussion needs to be had on the role of employers providing employees healthcare or do we need a larger pool that goes beyond private employers.  He added one economic driver for increasing healthcare costs is the rapid growth of drug costs.

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Anne O’Neil at Pershing Square; Photo by Barry Saks

Another person at Pershing Square was Anne O’Neil, 64, who is a Registered Nurse and teaches Licensed Vocational Nurses.  O’Neil lives in West Lake Village and does not belong to a union and never has.  She said she supports ACA and wants to move toward single-payer healthcare.  In response to Gov. Brown’s skepticism on how to pay for universal healthcare, she pointed out people’s healthcare needs do not go away, one way or another healthcare costs are paid for.  She then added before the Affordable Care Act, about $1,000 a year for people who had healthcare went to pay for those who didn’t have any healthcare.

A third person at Pershing Square was Inke Schroeder, 59, who does research at UCLA.  Schroeder said she has lived in California for about 25 years and now lives in west Los Angeles.  Schroeder said she was there to celebrate that the Affordable Care Act will remain and wants to move toward providing healthcare for everyone, like in Germany, where she was born.  Schroeder said she strongly supports “an income-based system,” but also said she thought employers should continue to pay for their employees’ healthcare.

California State Senators Ricardo Lara (D, Long Beach-Huntington Park) and Toni Atkins (D, San Diego), on Feb. 17, introduced the bill.  On March 2, it was moved to the Rules Committee.

The bill states, “It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would establish a comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage program and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, March 22, reported California Gov. Jerry Brown was skeptical of the funding for the bill and quoted the Governor saying, “Where do you get the extra money? This is the whole question.”

Senator Lara announced on Tuesday, March 21, he is running for Insurance Commissioner in 2018.

Click here to read the Los Angeles Times story that quotes Gov. Brown.

Click here to read the text of Senate Bill 562.

 

 

 

 

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