Asians and Pacific Islanders letter to CA Assembly Committee on Appropriations in opposition to SB 770

APIforCalCare letterhead

August 31, 2023

Assemblymember Chris Holden, Chair
Assemblymember Megan Dahle, Vice-Chair
Members of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations
1021 O Street, Suite 8220
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: SB 770 (Wiener), Health care: unified health care financing — OPPOSE

Dear Chair Holden and Committee on Appropriations Members,

Asians and Pacific Islanders for CalCare (API for CalCare) respectfully OPPOSES Senate Bill 770 (Wiener). This bill, as amended, would establish a working group tasked with advising the Governor on informal engagement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (federal HHS) on federal waiver authorities for a “unified financing” system of health care in California.

As a statewide organization, we strongly support CalCare/AB 1690 because it represents a course to pursue establishment of a patient-centered healthcare system that will address longstanding Asian and Pacific Islander healthcare disparities. As you may recall, after a hard fought two-year session for AB 1400, the bill’s lead author Asm. Ash Kalra in collaboration with the California Nurses Association (CNA) made commitments to engage the community and legislators this year (2023) to move the needle toward a single-payer health care system next year (2024).

Unaccountable, undemocratic “workgroups” that waste time rehashing conversations that already took place for 2.5 years via the Governor’s Healthy California for All Commission are not what our diverse communities need. The CalHHS estimated cost of the “low millions” cited in the Committee on Appropriations analysis of the bill are monies that should be better spent elsewhere.

We do not need more “studies” and idle talk. Furthermore, SB 770 is NOT calling for a single payer health care reform desired by a majority of voters, but rather, a “unified health care financing system,” which by the stated terms of the bill “may or may not involve a single-payer financing system.” It is precisely because of the prioritization of private insurer interests over patient healthcare interests that we have such extreme healthcare disparity in the state.

SB 770, as a multi-payer bill, could also lead to California codifying for-profit health insurance using public funds, potentially endangering billions more taxpayer dollars in over-billing and fraud, like the widely reported overbilling of Medicare Advantage which has cost the federal government an estimated overpayment of more than $100 billion since 2010.

SB 770 would delay the transformation of our current fragmented system of health insurance into a coherent system that guarantees healthcare for all. We cannot afford to wait – delays are paid through the health and lives of Californians. We cannot afford to risk our peoples’ lives for the sake of time and resources wasted by SB 770.

For these reasons, we respectfully oppose SB 770 and urge you to stop SB 770 from advancing.

Linda Okamura for API for CalCare