SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A group of more than 30 people gathered outside the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on Saturday to show support for the Medicare for All movement and AB-1400, a bill in the California legislature that would introduce a single-payer healthcare system across the state in order to cover all Californians.
The activists carried signs and argue that the current for-profit health care system is broken and unequal and that too many people are unable to afford the care they need. They also point to other developed countries that are able to afford such a system, with citizens who enjoy better health care.
“I think that the U.S. is an outlier and we should just join the rest of the industrialized world and have universal health care, it’s as simple as that.” said Robert Bernstein, who has been an activist for the cause for more than 25 years.
Activist John Douglas has also been fighting for the cause for that long.
“Plunge all that inefficiency, all that wasted money that involves just pushing papers back and forth, we put that into delivering health care for our entire population. No one left out,” he said.
Santa Barbara mayor Cathy Murillo joined Saturday's rally as well, and has been a vocal advocate for a single-payer system.
“That’s how it should be,” she said. “You should be able to get health care when you need it without making yourself go broke.”
The group is urging State Assemblyman Steve Bennett and State Senator Monique Limón to publicly endorse the bill.
In a joint statement, Bennett and Limón said they were unable to attend the rally due to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person meetings. They also addressed the bill in the statement, saying, in part:
“We will continue following this bill and hope that as it evolves, there is a fiscally sustainable way for California to implement universal coverage, while continuing to meet all its obligations to education and other social safety net programs.”
Critics argue AB 1400 lacks a clear financial plan and would be too expensive for taxpayers.