Single-payer health care and public education

It is estimated that more than 3.2 million Californians have no health care insurance, and millions more have delays in coverage or cannot access essential health care services, including medications, because of cost. That number has risen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many workers have lost their employer-based coverage or are unable to afford health care costs.

This serious situation affects all of us, not just those who do not have coverage or enough money, but our entire society is affected, which is constantly being forced to fix the problems and negative impacts on the sick and suffering, our workforce and communities. Will have to contend with rising costs. , (Even those with insurance are painfully familiar with rising deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, as well as routine denials of care by insurers.)

In recent years, advocates and legislators have pointed to a single-payer health care system as a solution. But what is it exactly?

The goal of single-payer health care is universal, guaranteed health care for all. It is based on the ideal that health care is a human right The acknowledgment that public health and welfare are moral responsibilities in human societies.

With single-payer health care, all residents are covered equally. Services are paid for and maintained by a government or public agency through federal funding and taxes. This is sometimes called Medicare for All.

Single-payer benefits students, schools, workers

Erica Feresten, left, and CTA members Shelley Ehrke and Mark Norberg are part of the single-payer group Educators. He supports CalCare, a bill that would impose a single-payer health care coverage system for California residents.

In recent years teachers and unionists, including CTA members, have become vocal supporters of single-payer health care. Shelley Ehrke, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, is part of Educators for Single-Payers, a group of California teachers who have been meeting regularly on the topic.

Ehrke says more and more teachers across California are strongly advocating and organizing for single-payer health care because we see firsthand how the inequities and skyrocketing costs of our current system are hurting our schools, students, and members. How are they affecting?

These effects are harmful, she says.

Ever-increasing insurance premiums are draining billions of dollars of public education money from our schools solely for the insurance company’s profit; Millions of students lack consistent, quality health care that can prepare them for success in school; Our bargaining teams spend extraordinary amounts of time and resources negotiating health care that will never be as comprehensive, consistent or cost-effective as single-payer, rather than being able to devote that time to other education-related issues. Not possible; And despite the incredible work of our bargaining teams, members still deal with denials, deductibles, co-payments, network restrictions, gaps in coverage and surprise bills.

Educators of single-payer and other advocates use recent research studies and surveys to identify several primary reasons that a single-payer health care system benefits public education and workers. from them:

  • Students with consistent health care have better test scores, attendance, focus, graduation rates, social-emotional well-being, and long-term academic achievement.
  • Implementing single-payer could save California schools more than $5 billion, cutting district health care expenditures by half or more.
  • The savings from a single-payer policy would allow school districts to invest in class size reduction, better salaries, more staffing, mental health supports, facilities, student resources, and more.
  • Single-payer would remove health care from the negotiating table, freeing our bargaining teams to focus on other important education issues.
  • No federally-negotiated health benefit will ever be as comprehensive, consistent, or cost-effective as single-payer.

CTA member Margaret Nunes supports single-payer health care.

CTA member Margie Keigh Bradley with Chris Stockton.

coverage for all

Universal, guaranteed health care for all is consistent with an equitable and socially just society. For single-pay teachers, this also makes sense.

With a single-payer system, every single person in California, with any provider they choose, will get comprehensive health care from cradle to grave – including dental, vision, long-term care, home care, prescriptions, medical devices Are included. And much more — all at a fraction of what the state, our districts and individuals spend now, Ehrke says.

That’s why single-payer teachers strongly believe that healthcare justice is a public education issue worth fighting for.

CTA State Council Single-Payer Forum, March 2023. Left to right: Shelley Ehrke, Ever Flores, Anthony Arinvine, Radha Bala, Tina Fredericks, Mary Lopez (CNA), Mark Norberg, Emily Rogers.

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