California nurses say that delaying action on establishing guaranteed health care for the state is a mistake, Californians cannot wait.

Lawmakers today are choosing to delay for another year action on AB 1400, the bill known as CalCare that would establish a guaranteed, single-payer health system for all California residents, using the excuse that they need to hash out more details and decide how to finance it.

Registered nurses and health care activists know that any delay on AB 1400 is a huge mistake and will cause more unnecessary suffering, death, and bankruptcy. The desperate, urgent need for guaranteed health care not tied to your job status, health condition, income, or immigration status has never been made more apparent than by the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve all been battling for more than a year and counting.

And we already know how to pay for it. Everyone understands by now that the United States pays way more for health care than the rest of the world — with worse outcomes — because almost 80 percent of each dollar is wasted on administering and enriching a private insurance–based system that has clearly been a complete failure. Just look at the neverending stories of medical bankruptcies, denials of care, delays in care, and more. It’s been clearly documented that a single-payer health system would save money in the long run. We’re already spending the dollars; they just need to be redirected into an equitable, public CalCare system.

The latest numbers suggest that there are more than 3 million uninsured people in California, and about 30 percent of Californians are underinsured, meaning that their insurance plans are inadequate to protect them or are too expensive, with high deductibles, premiums, and copays, to use when they need it. We know that many people no longer have health coverage due to losing their jobs during Covid, all while health needs are greater than ever because of the pandemic.

It’s obvious that we need guaranteed, Medicare for All–style health care for the state as well as the entire country. The vast majority of people in California and across the country believe health care is a human right, and a CalCare system is the only way we can guarantee people get the care they need.

California has the opportunity to lead the way by establishing such a system, but our elected officials are afraid to show leadership by challenging the deep pockets of the insurance industry.

Now is the time for our state legislators to step up and care for the people of this great state. Moving to pass CalCare is the right, moral thing to do, and nurses and our allies will never stop organizing the mass, grassroots movement we know it will take to make guaranteed health care a reality.