Editor’s note: Thank you for your letter about our report on single-payer health care. We encourage feedback and will update our work as appropriate. Trust and the integrity of our work is at the core of all we do at CALmatters. We are committed to a fair and balanced report on California policy and politics and welcome informed and civil discussion of all our reporting. In that spirit, we are publishing this letter. Our review found no factual errors in the article in question, though we did add more context on two points. We have noted those changes in the text with an asterisk and a footnote.


A recent CALmatters article (March 19) on the single payer movement in California created a misleadingly negative impression of healthcare systems in other countries while under stating the glaring disparities of the U.S. system which have sparked a broad movement for guaranteed healthcare in California and the U.S.

Despite spending far more than anyone else on health care, the U.S. falls well behind other industrial nations on a wide array of health measures, for example, ranking last among 20 wealthy countries in child mortality.

In contrast with similar nations, the U.S. has one of the largest income based health disparities, as well as rampant discrimination based on race, nationality, gender, age, and where you live, as well as ability to pay.

Platitudes about long waits or rationing of care in other countries ignores the lengthy waiting times and rationing, based on discriminatory factors, that characterize the U.S. system. Recipients of Medicare, the model and foundation for single payer, experience the least delays.

Today, 15 million Californians either have no health coverage or pay premiums for “insurance” they frequently can’t use because of the inflated, and rapidly rising, deductibles, co-pays and other out of pocket costs. And, it’s getting worse. Covered California has reported that premiums alone are expected to jump an additional 35 percent by 2021.

There’s a fix for our worsening healthcare troubles.  SB 562, a single payer reform, would guarantee healthcare for all state residents, and eliminate the premiums, deductibles, and other charges that force millions to either skip needed care, sacrifice paying for food, housing or other basics, or face bankruptcy.

The CALmatters report also overstates the obstacles to enactment of a single payer system in California. Those who insist state constitutional barriers require voters’ permission overlook the fact that the legislature has a long history of creating segregated funding for specific needs, including cap and trade legislation and the gas tax.

As to new fees, a CNA-sponsored research study documented ways nearly all California businesses and families would spend less on healthcare than they do now, while assuring health security for all.

The CALmatters report quotes unnamed “experts” who assert “the status quo works for most people.” But even a state Assembly analysis concluded that at least one-fifth of our neighbors are struggling with lack of coverage or unpayable medical bills. That is unsustainable and immoral. SB 562 is the humane solution Californians deserve and need.

Malinda Markowitz, RN, Co-President, California Nurses Association/National Nurses United

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