Nurses will never give up on their patients, will keep fighting for CalCare

We wanted to take the time to talk more in depth about what happened with AB 1400 and how we move forward together as a movement.

As you may have heard, Monday, January 31st was the deadline for AB 1400, the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act (CalCare), to pass out of the State Assembly. And though AB 1400 passed the Health and Appropriations committees and was scheduled for a vote on the floor, we were outraged to learn that the bill was being pulled just minutes before legislators were to go on the record about where they stand on guaranteed health care for all people in California.

CNA deeply disagreed with the decision to pull the bill. After months of organizing by thousands of people in the grassroots movement across the state, this failure by our elected representatives to take on the greed of the corporate health care industry was a profound disappointment. In their inaction, legislators have chosen to maintain a broken status quo instead of putting patients above profits.

Nevertheless, nurses never give up on our patients. We have fought for decades to ensure that health care is a human right for all people, regardless of ability to pay. We will not stop now.

The campaign to pass CalCare this year was just the latest in a decades-long struggle to transform our health care system. Efforts around AB 1400 began in late 2020, and in the last year we saw an unprecedented redoubling of efforts by thousands of people across California. Let’s recap what our achievements were together:

Volunteers stepped up in 33 key Assembly Districts to be District Leaders. These dedicated people led efforts in their district, recruited others to join them, and organized numerous events for their district from text banks to phone banks to legislative visits.

In September, we held “CalCare Fest” with several hundred attendees who attended mini breakout room workshops on talking to your friends and family about CalCare, talking to your coworkers about CalCare, how to use social media to promote the campaign, and even how to make a TikTok video about CalCare.

California Nurses Association President, Sandy Reding, RN.

Together we texted 3.7 million voters across California in key Assembly Districts to ask them to support CalCare and to sign a petition for their district. We also made nearly 70,000 phone calls as we called back all the CalCare supporters we identified from texting to ask them to call their Assemblymember and get involved in our campaign in the lead up to January. As a result of this effort, we saw thousands of new supporters sign up to join the campaign in key geographies.

In December, with the help of about 600 volunteers we sent 12,000 handwritten, personalized postcards to these same supporters, also asking them to get involved.

Together with our friends at Public Citizen, dozens of you helped pass resolutions in support of CalCare and Medicare for All in at least 28 cities and municipalities throughout California.

Alongside all of this work were also multiple statewide Days of Action. The latest heralded the start of the new legislative session, taking place on Saturday, January 8th. 15 volunteer-led car caravan actions took place that day around the state with a massive flagship car rally and caravan taking place in Sacramento at the Capitol.

Car rally and caravan in Sacramento (9/8/22).

In short, we organized like hell, and together we built one of the most successful grassroots campaigns to date for guaranteed health care for all in California.

So for CalCare to be pulled just minutes before it’s floor vote in the Assembly was heartbreaking for the thousands of us across the state who poured countless hours into organizing on its behalf. It is tragic that the present state of affairs in health care will continue for any longer.

Just days before the vote, the California Health Care Foundation released a survey that found half of Californians skipped or postponed some type of health care in the last 12 months due to cost; 47 percent of those said that their condition worsened as a result, an increase from a survey the year before. These are the results of a system that is organized around the profit imperative. It is entirely unjust — and the failure of the legislature to move CalCare forward will mean that costs will continue to rise and thousands of additional lives will be lost.

And let us be absolutely clear: corporate-friendly incrementalist approaches to reforming our health care system are incapable of solving the problem. Piecemeal expansions of insurance only bolster the power of insurance, hospital, and pharmaceutical corporations and will not ensure that those who need care can get it.

Timid incrementalism is incapable of taking on the power and greed of the corporate health care industry and will not ever deliver us a system that ensures health care to all. Only a mass movement has the ability to overcome the opposition of an entrenched and moneyed industry that is hell-bent on maintaining the status quo. This is our task: to continue building our movement in our communities, in our hospitals, in the streets, conversation by conversation — until health care is a right for all people and not just a privilege for those who can afford it. We cannot and will not stop until it is done.

Our movement for health care justice has undeniably grown over the past two years. We now have more active volunteers and are more organized than ever before. And despite our setback, we are more determined than ever to continue pushing until we achieve real health care justice.

Our intention is to introduce a new bill into the legislature next year. We’ll share more information closer to the summer about how you can get involved in those efforts no matter where you live.

In the meantime, if you’re wondering how you can plug in — our fight for Medicare for All at the national level isn’t slowing down, and we need your help. We’re organizing a National Medicare for All Strategy Call on Monday, Feb 28th, at 5 PT/8 ET. RSVP here to join us on that call!

Thanks for all you do in the movement. Whether you’ve been a District Leader, sent texts, written postcards, or attended a Day of Action, we’re grateful you are here, and we are proud to work alongside you in this righteous fight for health care justice.

Together, we will win. Onward to CalCare.

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Nurses' Campaign for Medicare for All

National Nurses United is the largest union of nurses in the US. NNU is leading the fight for Medicare for All on behalf of our patients and our communities.