Butte County Health Care Coalition
 
Keeping Single-Payer "On The Table"


 
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January 2012

Dear members of the Butte County Health Care Coalition,

Looking backwards at the activities taken on by the BCHCC in 2011, I am amazed at what we have accomplished this year. This is quite the way to celebrate our 20 years of activism in support of a single-payer, universal health care system. My enthusiasm is tempered by the knowledge that as much as we are doing, in order to see the success we all desire, we must strengthen our alliances with other social justice groups and neighboring counties.

Here is what the various members of the BCHCC have accomplished in 2011. I think you’ll be impressed. I know that I am.

BCHCC 2011 Activities

Stephen Tchudi makes time in his busy retirement schedule to work with Forest on developing our newsletter & web sites. Check it out at: http://www.buttesinglepayer.org or http://www.singlepayered.org

Forest Harlan has found that Facebook is an ideal place to post ongoing articles of interest to our members. If you have a Facebook account, search for ‘Butte County Health Care Coalition’, then ask to join. It’s that easy. If you aren’t on Facebook, don’t despair. The best of the articles will appear on our web site. This year, Becky White has taken over the job of maintaining our address lists for the newsletter. Chuck Greenwood, a new member, has agreed to become our corresponding secretary. Carolyn Dorn continues to send “Thank-yous” to those who write letters to our local papers.

Forest is actively following the exciting developments in the great Green State of Vermont. The activists from the Vermont Workers Center, along with physicians from Physicians for a National Health Program and Vermont for Single Payer, organized throughout their state with a campaign based on the theme, “Healthcare is a Human Right.” This year, Vermont became the first state in the U. S. to pass a framework bill to establish a single-payer healthcare system. Attention is being paid to this new strategy by activists like us in every other state in our great country. On October 24, 100 Chicoans listened as the Director of the VWC, James Haslam, and Donna Smith, famous for her role in “Sicko” and an organizer par excellence, informed and inspired us.

In California, doubt is now cast on the ability of a previous campaign named, “Healthy Majority,” as our movement has encountered new resistance from within the Democratic Party. Several Democratic legislators have accepted rather large contributions from the medical-industrial complex. The consequence of this is that we are not assured in the slightest that our California bill, SB 810, will even pass through the legislature, let alone be approved by Governor Brown. What it will take to pass SB 810 will be a concerted citizens’ lobbying effort to persuade key legislators to go against the will of their very well-heeled campaign contributors and risk the punishments that would surely follow. The various partners in the newly-formed, “Campaign for a Healthy California” will be working to activate their memberships to lobby the critical legislators from within their respective districts.

An indication of the difficulty we are facing from certain Democratic legislators came this April 27 when activists from throughout California filled the gallery, including a two-car caravan from the BCHCC, in the Senate Hearing Room at the Capitol to demand that the Health Committee pass SB 810 out of committee to the full Senate. Two Democratic senators were reluctant to vote for our bill. It took a flurry of lobbying to get one of the two to vote yes; the other “took a walk” and abstained rather than “disappoint” his campaign contributors. It you thought that electing a Democratic governor and having big majorities in both houses would create the conditions for passing SB 810; think again. I hope that we have learned something from the debacle of what passed for healthcare reform in Washington, DC in 2010. We must keep working, and working harder than ever in order to “make” them vote for single-payer.

Forest and Tom Reed have seen results this year on our newest project, Rural Voices for Single Payer. As a result of our outreach, presentations have been made in Plumas & Shasta counties. Activists from these counties have expressed a desire to jump into the task of organizing on their home turf. In addition to making presentations, activists from Shasta, Tehama and Siskiyou counties, plus student leaders from Chico State University joined Health Care for All members from Sacramento, Yolo, Butte & Nevada counties for our 2nd annual regional organizing conference on Sept. 17 in Chico. Look for further developments in 2012. Your extra contribution to the BCHCC will enable us to extend our outreach to these areas.

This year, Dave Garcia joined Forest as our second director for the board of the statewide Health Care for All-California (HCA) organization. With the separation of California OneCare (COC) from HCA, Jeanne Ertle could no longer serve in that capacity. We thank Jeanne for her years of service to HCA and wish her the best in her continuing work as Vice-Chair of COC. If you wish to make an extra donation to the cause, please consider taking out a membership in HCA. Forms are available in the enclosed brochure, on our web sites and at http://www.healthcareforall.org

In 2011, we undertook a rebranding of the BCHCC. Working with Charles Withuhn of Signs and Graphic Designs, we have executed a stunning new logo, which is truly professional in appearance. We now have two new banners. Look for it at places where we are tabling and on our stationery. With our new stationery, we have sent official endorsement letter to the following elected representatives: In support of SB 810, Senator Leno; in support of AB 52, Insurance Commissioner Jones, Senators Leno & LaMalfa & Assemblymembers Feuer, Huffman and Logue.

This year, we fulfilled a long-held desire to donate books on healthcare reform to the public library system. Now the Butte County Library system has 2 copies each of 4 new titles for which we paid. Look for us to continue making this type of contribution.

One of the best ways of doing outreach work is to table. In addition to Carol’s ongoing effort at the Farmers’ Market, we tabled at the following events: January 16, Dr. King celebration @ Trinity United Methodist Church; April 23, “Support Workers’ Rights” rally @ City Plaza; April 24, Chico Peace & Justice Center’s “Pancakes for Peace” @ CARD; May 26-29, Silver Dollar Days @ Silver Dollar Fairgrounds; July 4, Independence Day celebration @ Bidwell Park One-Mile; July 30, KZFR’s 21st Birthday Party @ Riparia.

Student outreach has been initiated with great success in Chico. Two events are most noteworthy. The second week of January marks the 3rd year that the health professional students (CalHPSA) have been organized as a lobbying force at the Capitol. This year, 2 carloads of activists from the BCHCC, who are beyond their student years, joined in the rally. Each year has seen an increase in numbers. Approximately 3,000 turned out this year. As we say, the more the merrier, in politics and in parties. Also, we had a strong student presence at our 2nd annual regional organizing conference under the auspices of HCA. Joey Foy and Noah Ferns spelled out exactly how we could work successfully with our local students. Plan to go with us this year on January 9.

Tom Reed continues to be the de facto leader of our local chapter of Physicians for National Health Program. PNHP Chico continues to promote successful community discussions on healthcare reform at Enloe Hospital Conference Center. There will be another one this Spring. On Sept. 15, Ken Logan MD, Tom Reed & Paul O’Rourke-Babb FNP, presented in Quincy. This event was sponsored by Plumas County Democratic Club. Some of the attendees expressed interest in forming a local chapter of HCA.

In July, Norma and Forest made a trek to Corvallis, OR for the Oregon Single-Payer Statewide Conference. We met around 100 activists and a few Mad As Hell Doctors and made some new friends in the process.

One of the highlights among highlights for 2011 was our 20th Anniversary Celebration Fundraiser dinner on October 15. Our crack team of organizers had outstanding food and silent auctions items that drew in your financial support. We raised $3,200 for our organization. Our thanks go out to Heather Schlaff, Kathy Reed and Tami Ritter and all of our members who came out for us. A good time was had by all.

I am pleased to announce that Linda Furr has agreed to rejoin our board in 2012. We will surely put her brand of infectious energy to good use. Two of our current board members will be leaving the board, therefore we are looking for two good women or men to fill our board. If you want to play a meaningful role in passing REAL healthcare reform, join us for a two-year term on our active team. If you want to be a leader, join us.

Our continuing success depends on your support. We hope to see you on January 14. It continues to be my pleasure to serve as your President.

Forest Harlan

 





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