Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Century Race Matters

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Single-Payer Health Bill Passes Senate But Critics Question How To Fund It

California has long been a national leader in innovation, and if Senate Bill 562 (which seeks to establish a Medicare-for-all system) passes, the state could change the direction of health care in the nation.

SB 562 is sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA.) According to a CNA press release, the primary goal of the new single-payer system is to save money and provide more efficient health care.

According to a study by University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers, a single-payer system could reduce California's health care spending by 18 percent.

The CNA also argues SB 562 would benefit businesses who currently carry the burden for workers' health care premiums. CNA says small businesses could see a 22 percent reduction in payroll costs, while medium-sized businesses could see a 13 percent reduction.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst study also projects that a single-payer system would cost the state more than $330 billion. (However, a legislative analysis puts the figure at $400 billion.) This would be funded by two 2.3 percent taxes on gross receipts and sales.

SB 562, introduced by State Sens. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego,) passed the Senate and is now with the Assembly.

Lara also extolled the money that could be saved by implementing a single-payer health care system, which would also cover undocumented immigrants.

"More Californians receive their health insurance through public programs like Medicare and Medi-cal than from any insurance company. These programs have low administrative costs and have high patient satisfaction. We have shown that California can do this," said Lara.

However, there are still several concerns and questions that have not been answered. For example, what happens to the private health care industry?

Deborah Burger, president of the CNA, said a single-payer system would effectively kill the private insurance industry. Burger said nurses, who are on the front lines of health care, see the effects of the private health care system every day. Patients have their care rationed and can't afford premiums or medications, she said.

"More and more people are declaring bankruptcy from medical bills," Burger said.

The California Medical Association (CMA,) a state organization that represents doctors, has offered limited support for SB 562.

"CMA has a policy supporting a single payer system provided it meets certain benchmarks -- the most important of which is demonstrating that the legislation would make appropriate investments in health care infrastructure, including providers for California's patients," said Joanne Adams, associate director of communications at the CMA. "Given what we've seen with the proposed raiding of tobacco tax funds we're not confident that the state is currently prepared to commit sufficient investments towards meaningful access to care."

Senate Republicans are also skeptical of the bill. State Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) was concerned about the cost and how it would be funded.

"SB 562 would cost California taxpayers $400 billion, more than twice the size of the entire state budget. It makes sweeping promises to provide health care for every Californian but has no funding plan to pay for it and no guarantees of greater access for consumers. It is a false promise to Californians," said Nguyen.

Sen. Tom Berryhill, (R-Twain Harte,) was also extremely critical of SB 562. He gave a lengthy speech in the Senate outlining his problems with the bill.

According to Berryhill, the Democrats have not offered a clear plan for funding their single-payer health care system.

"If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB-562, we wouldn't even cover half of the estimated $400-billion price tag," said Berryhill.

"Obviously, the state would have to generate a lot of new revenue from somewhere, but the bill has not identified any concrete sources of revenue."

Berryhill also cited the VA, the UC system and the high-speed rail project as other examples of poorly financed and run government programs.

"I'm just worried that single-payer would suffer the same fate as these other projects," said Berryhill.

Nguyen said the GOP favors improving healthcare by fixing Medi-Cal and also improving access to clinics that serve rural and low-income areas.

"We should begin by working to improve access for the 14 million people on Medi-Cal, which is the state's current government run program.

SB 562 is currently being reviewed by the State Assembly. If they don't add any amendments, it goes back to the Senate and onto Gov. Jerry Brown's office. Brown has publicly expressed skepticism about the bill, especially about how to pay for it.


Coalition Formed To Alert Black Leaders And Community Activists Of The Golden State Warriors’ Plans To Relocate From Oakland To San Francisco

San Francisco, CA ( -- The San Francisco Department of Elections has vetted the Good Neighbor Coalition, granting it permission to proceed with collecting the required number of signatures, for a local ballot measure for the June 2018 election that greatly affects one of the National Basketball Association’s best teams, the Golden State Warriors.

In support of the entire community of Oakland, California, the measure aims to set the record straight: San Franciscans overwhelming do not support the covetous manner its own elected officials employed in facilitating the Warriors plans to move from the team’s 45 years in Oakland, CA across the bay to The City.

Coalition members are embarrassed; pointing out, San Francisco has a $14 billion annual tourism industry and Oakland has a $800 million annual tourism industry. So why would elected officials of San Francisco covet the Golden State Warriors, one of the jewels of Oakland, CA? Allen Jones, initiatives proponent says, “A world-class city helps its neighbors. It does not help itself to its neighbor’s jewels.”

The coalition also rebukes NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, who has endorsed this move. Silver has shown great moral leadership against the racist remarks of a now former NBA franchise owner. He has shown moral leadership against the entire State of North Carolina for its discriminating against members of the LGBT community.

However, Adam Silver is the commissioner of a multibillion dollar sports league. Since he has been commissioner, the value of the Golden State Warriors went from $450 million to over $2 billion dollars. The billionaire owners of the Warriors refused to pay their debt of $60 million in upgrades to their current facility. They claim, after leaving their Oracle Arena when their new arena is built they should not have to pay any more of the bills for the old arena, even though the team demanded the upgrades under old ownership that the new ownership enjoys. Silver has showed no moral compulsion to help the community of Oakland who still must pay this bill. Therefore, the Good Neighbor coalition felt the need and moral obligation to, address that issue in its ballot measure statement for other municipalities to consider when opening their doors to billionaire owners.

The Declaration of Policy voters will decide on, reads:

Thou Shall Not Covet Policy of San Francisco shall be: We the People of the City and County of San Francisco California will not invite, entice, encourage, cajole or condone the relocation of any professional sports team that has previously established itself in another municipality and has demonstrated clear and convincing support from community and fans for at least twenty years and is profitable. And we stand against any sports team ownership group that attempts to avoid payment of an outstanding public debt. Instead of looking for an opportunity to take from our neighbors we wish to fully support each other and the entire Bay Area.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to defeat the owners of the Warriors and San Francisco City Hall at their own game.

You may follow progress of the ballot measure on the San Francisco Department of Elections website: Campaign services


Block On Muslim Ban Stands - Advancing Justice Applauds Court Decision to Keep Block on Muslim Ban 2.0 And Remains Vigilant on Case

LOS ANGELES - Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco affirmed the injunction on President Trump’s “Muslim Ban 2.0” executive order. Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, applauds this decision and remains vigilant on this case.

Advancing Justice and the Korematsu Center were among the organizations that filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief last month with the Ninth Circuit on the government’s attempt to remove a block placed on President Trump’s Muslim ban by a federal judge in Maryland.

Advancing Justice released a statement following the court’s ruling:

“Today we are proud that our courts continue to stand up for the Muslim community and the rule of law. Many Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities have suffered greatly since the Muslim ban was first issued. President Trump’s attempted Muslim ban fed into the current culture of Islamophobia within the U.S. and abroad.

The Muslim ban unlawfully restrains travel and freedom of movement for the communities affected. Any attempts to limit travel based on religion or country of origin is an egregious attack on the Constitution and existing U.S. laws. This nationwide ruling will mitigate the harmful effects of the President’s efforts to block travel by members of Muslim communities, which include significant restraint on travel and day-to-day activities, the promotion of harmful anti-Muslim stereotypes, and psychological harm.

From the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese American incarceration to the Muslim Ban today, xenophobia has driven national policy in ways that fan the flames of irrational fear and hatred. The court’s decision today affirms America can and must do better than this.

While today is a victory for the freedom of our communities, there is still no finality on this issue until the Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case. We will continue to oppose any and all threats to the communities we represent. For example, the State Department recently made visa applications for our communities more difficult by requiring five years of social media information and fifteen years of travel history, making an already arduous process even more burdensome. We will continue to stay vigilant to any future efforts from every department of this administration to ban religious or ethnic communities through back door policies.”

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