California Educator

February/March 2024

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I T ' S E S T I M A T E D T H A T more than 3.2 million Californians have no health care insurance, and millions more with cov- erage delay or cannot access needed health care services, including medications, due to cost. That number has grown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as many workers lost their employer-based coverage or have been unable to afford the cost of health care. This dire situation affects all of us — not only those with- out coverage or enough funds, but our society as a whole, which must contend with the sick and suffering, a negative impact on our workforce and communities, and ever-rising costs to "fix " the problems. (Even people with insurance are painfully familiar with increasing deductibles and out-of- pocket costs, as well as insurers' routine denial of care.) 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, guar- anteed health care for all. It is based on the ideal that health care is a human right — an acknowledgement that public health and well-being are moral obligations in a humane society. With single-payer health care, all residents are covered equally. Services are paid for and overseen by a government or public agency through federal funding and taxes. This is sometimes referred to as "Medicare for all." Single-payer benefits students, schools, workers In recent years educators and unionists, including CTA members, have become vocal supporters of single-payer health care. Shelly Ehrke, a member of Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, is part of Educators for Single-Payer, a group of California educators who have been meeting regularly on the subject. "More and more educators across California are strongly supporting and organizing for single-payer health care because we see first-hand how the inequities and skyrock- eting costs of our current system are impacting our schools, students and members," Ehrke says. These impacts are pernicious, she says. "Ever-increasing insurance premiums are siphoning billions of public edu- cation dollars away from our schools simply for insurance company profit; millions of students lack the consistent, quality health care that would set them up for success in Single-Payer Health Care & Public Education Its impact on students, schools and workers 44 Advocacy

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