Democrat and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon betrayed his Californian constituents by shooting down a bill aimed at repairing the state’s healthcare by instituting a single payer system. The promising bill had extensive support from progressively minded activists, making Rendon’s foolish decision all the more baffling. The measure was written by Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, both, like Rendon, members of the Democratic party. The bill would have positively transformed California’s current model into a single-payer healthcare system, a model used by many western nations to offer quality healthcare to all citizens.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who has long been a voice for intelligent and positive reform of the healthcare system, rightly called Rendon’s ill-conceived decision “very disappointing.” Not only is single-payer healthcare the ideal solution for revamping and improving California’s healthcare system, its broad and far-reaching support among citizens of the state and progressives throughout the country means Rendon’s actions went directly against the popular will of his constituents. This disconnect from the wishes of voters shows how out of touch Rendon is with both the public and his party’s values.
Even medical professionals were opposed to Anthony Rendon’s decision. RoseAnn DeMoro, leader of the California Nurses Association, likened the Assembly Speaker’s decision to a stab in the back. Not only did Rendon fail in passing the bill, he neglected to even contact the Nurses Association, the bill’s sponsor. Bonnie Castillo, associate executive director with the Nurses Association, pointed out that Rendon’s poor behavior was “bad form,” and confirmed that he “did not even notify us, the sponsor of the bill, of what he was intending to do.”
Rendon’s choice to lash out and single handedly kill the promising bill was, according to his few supporters, a decision made to protect other members of his party, but Castillo pointed out the fallacy in this line of thinking. “I don’t think he has protected anyone, and mostly he hasn’t protected anyone in the state of California by denying them the opportunity to have comprehensive healthcare,” she said in a comment to the press.
Had the bill passed, California would have had a proper universal healthcare system, on par with models offered in virtually every modern and industrialized nation today. The single-payer system ensures that the state government covers healthcare costs for all residents, thereby replacing profit-driven private insurance companies, which deny medical care to those who most need it. Canada and the United Kingdom have proven beyond any question that a single-payer healthcare system is by far the most viable, responsible, and affordable way of providing healthcare for everyone. The bill embodied progressive calls of “healthcare for all,” but Rendon’s decision showed his apparent preference for healthcare for only a few.
California was poised to open a national dialogue on the need for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States, but Speaker Rendon’s decision has effectively silenced that conversation. His blanket rejection of the bill is counter to the wishes of his party, constituents, and the health and well-being of California’s 39 million residents.