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Last Fall, the Pharmaceutical Industry spent upwards of $130 million to defeat Prop. 61, which would have lowered the cost of prescription drugs for the State of California. If an industry would spend that much to defeat an initially popular measure which would merely reduce their profits, imagine how much an industry might spend to defeat a measure which would eliminate them altogether!

Healthcare Rocks

SB 562, the Healthy California Act, would cut billions of dollars from California's healthcare budget, and yet provide healthcare to every Californian without co-payments and deductibles, and it would include dental and vision care. The major savings would be attained by removing the Insurance Companies from the equation. For every healthcare dollar that's spent, upwards of 30% of it goes to the insurance companies to pay for administration costs, advertising and especially executive compensation.

Why would the Speaker of the Assembly try to kill the one logical course forward to provide healthcare to all of California? It comes back to Insurance Company money.

Going up against the Insurance Industry is a daunting task. And yet, led by the California Nurses Association, SB 562 sailed through the State Senate. The bill reached the Assembly Rules Committee and would soon reach the Appropriations Committee where amendments that would lay out how the bill would be funded were about to be introduced. At that point, Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon put the bill on hold so it couldn't move forward to reach a vote on the Assembly floor.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Republicans in the Congress and Senate worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even though they weren't successful, Donald Trump and his Secretary of Health & Human Services, Tom Price, are busy undermining the ACA so we'll start seeing premiums rising sharply and Insurance Companies dropping out of state exchanges. Right now, with the ACA, 4.5 million people in California still don't have healthcare, and many more millions are underinsured, saddled with high deductible policies that discourage them from even using the health insurance that they do have. Imagine how much worse this will get as Trump and Price's efforts bear fruit!

So why would the Speaker of the Assembly try to kill the one logical course forward to provide healthcare to all of California? It comes back to that Insurance Company money. Jerry Brown received a lot of it, and announced that he never wanted to see SB 562 reach his desk. He threatened to veto any bills put forward by any legislator who voted for it. And yet it made it through the Senate. Speaker Rendon and a number of other Assembly members, nicknamed "The Mod Squad" for their "moderate" politics, also received a lot of donations from the Insurance Industry. While some of these other Mod Squad members would find themselves facing primary challenges should they be on record voting down SB 562, it was felt that Rendon, with his prodigious fundraising ability, could withstand any primary challenge. So he took the heat off all the other Mod Squad members by trying to kill the bill himself.

The backers of Prop. 61 were unable to educate enough voters about the relationship between the negative messaging that was coming out about the measure and the Pharmaceutical Companies that were paying enormous sums to convince people not to mess with their prodigious profits. Early on in the SB 562 campaign, we needed to find ways to educate the Californians about a complex issue like Healthcare and inoculate them to the onslaught of Insurance Company money that would be coming their way in the form of negative messaging. I proposed that we use Schoolhouse Rock as a model.

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Back in the '70s, Congress mandated that if the networks were going to subject children to hours of mindless Saturday morning cartoons, they'd have to provide a certain number of minutes of educational programing every hour. Schoolhouse Rock created a series of 3-minute videos about Civics, Math, Grammar and History. They were whimsical and fun and had catchy tunes that many people of my generation can still sing.

So we're making our own Healthcare Rocks! animated musical videos about Healthcare. Our latest one was just released. It's called "Piece of Legislation" - about how a bill tries to become law in a California Legislature where Insurance Company Lobbyists and the Legislators in their pay work to keep that from happening. I wrote and produced the video. The animator is Cole Montminy, who hand-drew the piece, and the voice of the bill is the amazing Jason Paige (the same fellow who sings the Pokemon theme). Enjoy!

The video ends with a call to action. We have until Friday to convince Anthony Rendon to take the bill out of committee and get it to a floor vote if it is to be a one-year bill. Over the course of the next few days, Healthy California is sponsoring a series of healthcare town halls in the districts of these Mod Squad members. We need to get as many people out to them as possible so these elected officials will see that the people in their districts want them to pay more attention to them and their health needs than to the insurance company donations that they're receiving.

Here's a link to the page with all the town halls on it. Please see if there's one in Statewide Town Halls and Canvassing Call for Urgent Action on Healthy California Act SB 562

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">your district or near where you live.

Together we can help California to join all other advanced nations in the world and provide guaranteed healthcare to all of us!

Clifford J. Tasner