95 episodes

We’re calling Code WACK! on America’s healthcare system, where the prognosis is grim and the stakes are high. Join HEAL California as we chat with experts, doctors and patients, exploring the challenges they face and possible remedies. 

Code WACK‪!‬ HEAL California

    • News
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

We’re calling Code WACK! on America’s healthcare system, where the prognosis is grim and the stakes are high. Join HEAL California as we chat with experts, doctors and patients, exploring the challenges they face and possible remedies. 

    Is 'Now' Our Moment for Healthcare Justice?

    Is 'Now' Our Moment for Healthcare Justice?

    Show Notes:
    Is 'Now' Our Moment for Healthcare Justice?
     
    Assemblyman Ash Kalra represents California's 27th District which encompasses about half of the city of San Jose in the Silicon Valley.  The first Indian-American to serve in the state's legislature, he has established himself as a progressive leader on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to the environment to health care and housing. 
    His bill AB 1400, Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, would establish a California-based single-payer system covering all residents of the state. 
    Get the ultimate insider’s perspective on the challenges California faces in this struggle, and find out why this bill is so important to Assemblyman Kalra!
     
    Click here for podcast transcript
    Click here for Ash Kalra’s biography 



    When it comes to winning a state-based single payer system, what role would the nation’s Health & Human Services Department play?  
    “So the Department through [HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra] approves the waivers, the federal waivers, and no state can run a single-payer type system without getting federal waivers if they truly want to have a single-payer system and not a disjointed system.”
     
    Major organizations including Kaiser Permanente and some labor unions oppose or are reticent about your bill, AB 1400. What would you say to them? 
    “...if [Kaiser is] dedicated to serving their patients, serving their community, the reality is that a single-payer system fits really well with their healthcare delivery system.
    “Look unions are very egalitarian in that sense and they support things like raising the minimum wage, even though union workers get paid more than minimum wage, because they understand the common humanity of lifting up people. It's just that a lot of the unions bargain really hard for good benefits. They put a lot of their time and energy and made sacrifices on pay and other things to get good health care. And so we have to recognize that and say, ‘Okay, well how do we reconcile that?’”



    What do you want your constituents to know most about AB 1400? 
    “I want them to know that this is about making sure that everyone in our community, every neighbor, everyone has health care...We can be unemployed next week, something can happen that's catastrophic. You just never know and so, think about other families that go through those situations. GoFundMe should not be a healthcare safety net.”



    How would single payer benefit high-tech, Silicon Valley businesses such as those in your district? 
    “...the tech industry would benefit so much because we have really good quality employers here in Silicon Valley that give really good health care to their employees as part of the benefits package...They can save a lot of money and focus on other things they can give to incentivize employees, right? So they can give better wages, they can give more paid sick leave or vacation days.”
     
    What do you bring with you to the fight for single payer?
    “My goal in my public service is very simple. It’s to reduce suffering. I see way too much suffering in our healthcare system. But I see practical things, too, like my father has been on Medicare now for over a dozen years. He has had the same provider, the same doctor, cardio...Nothing's changed. Just who's paying changed.  Right? It tells you right there that this is very possible if we want it to be possible.” 



    Get Involved / Take Action
    Join the CalCare Campaign to pass AB1400, the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act
    Join Health Care for All California to keep up with local actions in your area
    Subscribe to HEAL California for health policy news with a California focus
    Join Healthy California Now  - individual and organizational membership available
    Join Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) to join the national campaign
     
    Helpful Links
    “CalCare” Press Release, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, Feb 19, 2021
    “CalCare” B

    • 12 min
    California Medicare for All? Assemblyman Ash Kalra is all in!

    California Medicare for All? Assemblyman Ash Kalra is all in!

    Check out Code WACK!’s latest illuminating podcast, the first of two featuring Assemblyman Ash Kalra discussing his healthcare legislation AB 1400, California Health Care for All 
     
    Show Notes 
     
    California Medicare for All?
    Assemblyman Ash Kalra is all in! 
    What’s California’s latest single-payer bill all about? Get the facts from its author, California Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), who introduced AB 1400, California Health Care for All (also known as CalCare), in early 2021. 
     
    Why did Kalra introduce AB 1400? For one thing, he believes health care is a human right. 
    Click here for podcast transcript
    Click here for Ash Kalra’s biography 
     
    How would the bill improve our health care? It would provide Californians comprehensive health coverage as well as dental, vision, hearing, substance abuse, mental health and long-term care regardless of employment, marital, financial or immigrant status.
    “For too long, we've been denying this human right, either outright to people who don't have health care, or in effect for those who don't have meaningful access to health care,” Kalra says.
     
    Why now? The stars have aligned politically to create a more favorable environment to make single-payer, Medicare for All a reality.
    “We not only are in the midst of a devastating pandemic... but also we have a governor that's supportive. We have a supermajority of Democrats in the California Legislature. And we have the election of President (Joe) Biden, which now gives us an opportunity to make the case to the Department of Health Human Services to allow for federal waivers (needed to have a single-payer system),” Kalra says.
     
    What’s Kalra doing to advance the legislation? The Toronto-born lawmaker launched a study and lobbying tour across the U.S. and Canada in October. He met with congressional members in Washington DC and with officials in the Department of Health & Human Services. And while in Canada, he learned that each Canadian province has its own unique single-payer system.
    “Quebec covers pharmaceuticals....No other province does. When I was in Ontario, you can sense some of that regret that they hadn't done that sooner….In Toronto, between the ages of 25 and 65, there's no coverage for pharmaceuticals and that's a big gap in coverage for Canadian residents in Ontario, and in every other province except for Quebec.”
     
    Why go for state-based single-payer instead of federal Medicare for All? 
    “Ultimately if the United States of America is going to get a single-payer type system, it’s got to start in the states and I think it allows the states to develop a system that works for each individual state, their population, and their economy,” Kalra says.
     
    So what’s the latest on the bill’s progress? Kalra expects the bill to be heard after lawmakers convene in January 2022. He actually held back the CalCare bill in early 2021 because it was not likely to get the votes it needed in the policy committees. But he expects the bill not only be referred to the relevant policy committees in the upcoming session but that there will be a vigorous debate over the bill. 
    “I'm very hopeful that my colleagues will understand the urgency of the moment that we need to move forward,” Kalra says.



    Get Involved / Take Action
    Join the CalCare Campaign to pass AB1400, the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act
    Join Health Care for All California to keep up with local actions in your area
    Subscribe to HEAL California for health policy news with a California focus
    Join Healthy California Now  - individual and organizational membership available
    Join Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) to join the national campaign
     
    Helpful Links
    “CalCare” Press Release, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, Feb 19, 2021
    “CalCare” Bill Text: AB 1400, Guaranteed Health Care for All (California State Assembly)
    International Health Care System Profiles: Canada, The Commonwe

    • 14 min
    The Power of Labor in California’s Battle for Single Payer

    The Power of Labor in California’s Battle for Single Payer

    Show Notes
     
    The Power of Labor in California’s Battle for Single Payer
     
    Check out Code WACK!’s latest insightful podcast, the second of two featuring Cindy Young, labor advocate and expert in health benefit negotiations, discussing how best to work with the labor movement in the fight for single-payer, Medicare for All.  
    Host Brenda Gazzar and Young, board member of the California Alliance for Retired Americans and vice chair of Healthy California Now, talk about the winning strategies needed to guarantee American workers the healthcare security they need.
     
    Click here for podcast transcript
    Click here for Cindy Young’s biography 
    Podcast image (l to r): 
    Cindy Young & Rose Roach, Minnesota Nurses Association
     
    Healthy California Now,  a statewide coalition of organizations and activists dedicated to establishing a single-payer, Medicare-for-All system in California, has never seen more labor participation in its history than it has now, says Young. 
    That includes the National Union of Healthcare Workers, UNITE HERE, the machinist unions, California Federation of Teachers and more.
    “So I think our organizing approach with unions is different now because we are asking them to be partners. We aren’t telling them: ‘Sign on to this bill.’ ‘Do this.’ We're saying, we believe this is the only way we're going to manage to keep a decent health plan is to take it off the bargaining table and, you know, we guarantee health care for every worker by guaranteeing health care for all.”
     
    That’s not to say the challenges over the years have gotten any easier... 
    “It's always around capacity. You know, capacity to do the work. Capacity to find activists. Capacity, you know, to get programs up and running, right? And to get people's attention to advance, right, the vision and goal and that's hard to do without a bazillion dollars,” explains Young.
     
    Young added that it’s hard to get anything done in Sacramento without labor support. But she believes there’s reason for hope that California will eventually find its way to Medicare for All.
    “As hard as this issue is to organize around, if you look back at the last 10 years, we have made incredible strides in convincing the public, right? The California Endowment just did these town halls all over the state focusing on what people want out of a healthcare system.”
     
    In fact, the California Endowment and several other foundations recently learned that 65 percent of low-income Californians want government-run health care.
    “I feel like we're in a good position to make more advancements. I'm hopeful about the Healthy California Commission, the governor's commission,” Young continues. “I don't think it's going to be a perfect report but if that report, right, can lead us in a direction, then we have a door open to do more work and to help us advance our cause down the road.”
     
    Thanks for listening! And remember to subscribe to Code WACK! to catch all our episodes about America’s broken healthcare system on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen.
     
    Get Involved / Take Action
     
    Join Healthy California Now  - individual and organizational membership available
     
    Join the CalCare Campaign to pass AB1400, the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act
     
    Subscribe to HEAL California for health policy news with a California focus
     
    Join Health Care for All California to keep up with local actions in your area
     
    Join Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) to join the national campaign



    Helpful Links
    “CalCare” Press Release, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, Feb 19, 2021
    “CalCare” Bill Text: AB 1400, Guaranteed Health Care for All (California State Assembly)
    Healthy California Now, California’s statewide, non-partisan organizational coalition for guaranteed, universal health care 
    Healthy California for All Commission, charged by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to “develop a plan for advanc

    • 12 min
    American workers' desperate fight for healthcare security

    American workers' desperate fight for healthcare security

    Show Notes
     
    Check out Code WACK!'s latest podcast featuring Cindy Young, labor advocate and expert in health benefit negotiations, discussing the significance of the labor movement in America’s struggle for healthcare justice, and the need for Medicare for All.
     
    Host Brenda Gazzar and Young, a board member of the California Alliance for Retired Americans and vice chair of the Healthy California Now coalition, explore the historic antecedents of our nation’s current healthcare system, including the heroic role played by the United Mine Workers of America in 1946 to win health benefits for the first time. 



    Click here for the podcast transcript or visit our website:
    https://heal-ca.org/american-workers-desperate-fight-for-healthcare-security/
     
     
    Ever since then, organized labor has set the bar on health benefits, not only for union members but for the workforce in general:
    “...nonunion employers were saying ‘Well, I don't want my workforce to organize so I'm going to provide benefits that are similar to what the union workers are getting so I don't have to deal with union organizing’ and that really is the beginning of health insurance in this country,” Young explains.



    Yet employers were not required by the government to provide health insurance to their workers until the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010. 
    “...until the ACA passed, there was no obligation of any employer to provide any benefits at all, right, so an employer never had to provide health insurance to a worker...For years and years and years, how you got your benefits was either you were in a union and the union bargains wages, hours and working conditions or you got it, you know, through your employer who didn't want the union to organize,” Young says.
     
    And though the ACA is truly a lifesaver, Young explains, it has not adequately addressed our healthcare system’s most urgent needs - universality and affordability. Without those elements, millions of Americans still face a closed door when it comes to their care. 
     
    In addition, Young paints a grim picture of a reality where bargaining for health benefits has evolved into a zero sum game that completely fails to address the ever-spiraling costs to both employers and employees. 
    “..employers oftentimes, almost all the time, say to us, ‘here's how much money we have to pay for benefits...we've got 1% of salary to pay for wages and benefits. If you want to take it in wages, take it in wages. If you want to take it in benefits,  take it in benefits but we're not going to give you any more than x amount.’” 
     
    You’ll also hear in this episode why Young pushes back on the idea that patients are “consumers” and continues to fight for improved Medicare for All.
     
    Thanks for listening! And remember to subscribe to Code WACK! to catch all our episodes about America’s broken healthcare system on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen.



    Cindy Young's Biography
    ​​Ms. Young started her career at H.E.R.E., Local 2 in San Francisco as the Director of Research in 1985. She negotiated pension and healthcare benefits for 25,000 hotel and restaurant workers in San Francisco. She served as the key trustee for the H.E.R.E, Local 2, Pension, Education and Health and Welfare Trust Funds. She provided advice and counsel to Senior Union Staff on legislation impacting healthcare and pension benefits. She developed health reform education programs for H.E.R.E. International Union and its affiliates. She developed and organized the California Northern California Labor Health Coalition, which successfully improved Kaiser’s Chiropractic and Drug and Alcohol Benefits.
     
    From 1988 – 2010, Ms. Young served as the Senior Health Policy Advisor to California School Employees Association (CSEA). She negotiated healthcare benefits for 220,000 classified school employees and analyzed insurance renewals. She provided leadership and counsel to the

    • 11 min
    Thom Hartmann: Now's the time to fix our 'bloodsucking leech' of a healthcare system. Here's how.

    Thom Hartmann: Now's the time to fix our 'bloodsucking leech' of a healthcare system. Here's how.

    SHOW NOTES Join Code WACK! for the second of two podcasts featuring Thom Hartmann on America's healthcare fiasco and what we can do about it. 
    After all, how does it help the nation’s health to have insurance industry executives sucking millions of dollars out of the system while Americans deny themselves healthcare because they can’t afford it?
    And why have our political leaders abandoned us to this mess?
    Host Brenda Gazzar and Hartmann, America’s No. 1 progressive talk radio show host and New York Times bestselling author, continue their discussion of his newest book, “The Hidden History of American Health Care: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich.”   
     
    Click for transcript  
    HOW CAN WE GET THE PROFIT MOTIVE OUT OF HEALTHCARE? Thom offers a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we simply buy out the health insurance sector:
    “…it's not the most serious suggestion in the book, but it's like one of these kinds of ‘in case of emergency break glass.’ The problem is that every time you talk about a single-payer healthcare system or anything like it, um, you've got this industry, this almost trillion dollar a year industry that literally is spinning off five, six, $7 billion a month in profits.
     
    HOW DO WE PAY FOR MEDICARE FOR ALL? The other problem with bringing up Medicare for All is the age-old question becomes “How do we pay for it?” Thom points out how changes in tax rates on the nation’s highest earners have left us in debt, completely unnecessarily:
    “In fact, if Reagan had never cut taxes and then the two big subsequent ones, the George W. Bush and Donald Trump tax cuts, if those had never happened, we would have no national debt right now.”
    So we do have the money to bring about real change. However we decide to fix our healthcare system, it is clear that we must act, according to Thom. Our current system is not only harming Americans, it’s also harming our nation’s ability to innovate and compete economically. 
     
    COVID 19 - A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE? COVID seemed like the opportunity for a national conversation on this, yet despite the devastation it wrought, Americans seem to believe the hassles and high costs of our healthcare system are “normal.”  They most certainly are not!
    "The number of people who have to declare bankruptcy because somebody in their family got sick in Canada is zero. In Germany, it’s zero. In France, it’s zero. In the UK, it’s zero. Here it was a half a million..., well last year it was over 700,000 as best we can tell. And this year it's probably going to be over a million...I'm just astonished that Americans just assume that this is normal. This is not normal."
     
    You can check out Tom’s new book “The Hidden History of American Health Care: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich” and subscribe to Code WACK!, your podcast about America’s broken healthcare system on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. 
     
    Thom Hartmann Biography Thom Hartmann is a progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show host whose shows are available in over a half-billion homes worldwide. He's the New York Times bestselling, four-time Project Censored Award-winning author of about 30 books in print in 17 languages on five continents. Leonardo DiCaprio was inspired by Thom's book "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" to make the movie "The 11th Hour" (in which Thom appears), and the movie "Ice On Fire."
    Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 10th most important talk show host in America in 2019 and has been in the top ten for over a decade and he is the #1 most important progressive host, in their “Heavy Hundred” ranking.
    His radio show is syndicated on for-profit FM and AM radio stations nationally, on nonprofit and community stations nationwide by Pacifica, across the entire North American continent on SiriusXM Satellite radio (Progress, Channel 127), on cable syste

    • 10 min
    Tune in! Thom Hartmann discusses his new book & the racist history behind America's ongoing healthcare fiasco

    Tune in! Thom Hartmann discusses his new book & the racist history behind America's ongoing healthcare fiasco

    Join us for a lively discussion with Thom Hartmann about how America’s healthcare system got so screwed up!  
    You probably know Thom Hartmann as America’s No. 1 progressive talk radio show host. But did you know that he’s also a New York Times bestseller? 
    His latest book, “The Hidden History of American Health Care: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich,” is hot off the presses and already making waves. 
    The book is not only easy-to-digest but super informative and part of Thom’s popular Hidden History book series.
     
    WHY DOES THOM CARE ABOUT HEALTH CARE?
    In this Code WACK! podcast, the first of two, Thom discusses why health care is such an important issue for him, the truly shocking impact of America’s racist roots, and how he came to realize that the U.S. seriously lags behind many other countries when it comes to health care. 
     
    For example, he shared that when he and his wife Louise were heading to the jungles of Costa Rica to collaborate with Leonardo DiCaprio on their documentary “Ice on Fire” several years ago, he had a surprising conversation with a local taxi driver:
    “I said … ‘What do you like the most about living here?’ and he's like ‘Well, I don't have any medical bills, and my son went to college, and the government paid for it.’ And I'm like, ‘Wow, you know, this is freaking Costa Rica. We can't do this in the United States but they do it in Costa Rica.’”
     
    HOW BAD IS OUR HEALTH CARE, REALLY?
    In fact, the United States lags behind many other countries when it comes to access and affordability, but also health outcomes. One major proof of America’s healthcare fail has been the pandemic. 
     
    Taiwan, which has had a single-payer healthcare system since 1995, is faring much better than the United States when it comes to COVID-19 related cases and fatalities.
    “Taiwan has what is arguably, in my opinion anyway,  the world's best single-payer healthcare system,” Hartmann said. “It’s clean, it's efficient, it's relatively new … and everybody is enrolled the moment you know that you're born.”
     
    Thanks to their single-payer system, Taiwan has one of the fastest, most sophisticated and efficient contact tracing programs in the world, says Hartmann. 
    “Using that, they were able to isolate the people who were infected with COVID, keep them from spreading it - bend that R value all the way down to zero -- the reproduction rate for the virus -- and you know they spent most of last year with no problem.”
     
     
    IS RACISM AT THE FOUNDATION OF OUR SYSTEMIC HEALTHCARE FAILURES?
    Meanwhile, the United States continues to struggle, not just with COVID but also with extreme inequity in healthcare access and outcomes. That’s in no small part, according to Thom, because of our racist roots:
    “Racism is the legacy of America. It’s still very much the omnipresent reality of America, but it's also the reason why we don't have a national healthcare system.” 
     
    And, he explains, it’s also why Medicare still has so many coverage gaps, why 8 former slave states are among the 12 states that still have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and why Black people continue to suffer higher uninsured rates than White people. 
     
    You can check out Tom’s new book “The Hidden History of American Health Care: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich” and subscribe to Code WACK!, your podcast about America’s broken healthcare system, on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. 
    Also stay tuned for our next podcast, bringing you more of Thom's thought-provoking insights!
     
    Thom Hartmann Biography
    Thom Hartmann is a progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show host whose shows are available in over a half-billion homes worldwide. He's the New York Times bestselling, four-time Project Censored Award-winning author of about 30 books in print in 17 languages on five cont

    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

Podcastlover74 ,

Educational and entertaining

The podcast features real people struggling with health care issues as well as experts and advocates who make a compelling case for healthcare reform.

PoliticsMom ,

Facts About Our Healthcare System

This is exactly the facts we need to force our media and politicians to address the abysmal healthcare system in the wealthiest country on earth. Great information, very interesting conversation, very well presented!!

Hermosa Chelsea ,

Fascinating take on Medicare for All

Extremely interesting topic and really well done podcast!

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