Nurses and activists hold car caravan demanding health care for all
More than 30 decorated cars full of nurses, local health care advocates and community members lined up in a caravan and drove from Goleta to Santa Barbara on Saturday in support of health care for all.
The car caravan was one of 22 around California, organized by the California Nurses Association. The advocates urged state legislators to pass California Guaranteed Health Care for All, also known as CalCare, a universal health care system through single-payer public financing.
The goal is to provide all California residents access to comprehensive, high quality health care.
Caravans took place in Ventura, Los Angeles, Sonoma, Long Beach, Santa Cruz and more on Saturday afternoon.
Local participants began on the north side of Phelps Road between Pacific Oaks Road and Mills Way in Goleta at 1 p.m. and drove down Hollister Avenue to upper State Street. They stopped at the midway point at the office of Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, on Hope Avenue in Santa Barbara, then proceeded down State and Milpas streets and Cabrillo Boulevard. The caravan ended in the parking lot of La Playa Stadium, at Shoreline and Loma Alta drives.
Saturday was considered the nurses’ kick off day of action, highlighting the need especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Douglas is a local pianist and music director, and an advocate for medicare for all. He was handing out CalCare signs to the caravan participants.
“I’ve got four kids, three of whom have one of those bare bones health plans that has a huge deductible and all kinds of co-pays,” he told the News-Press on Saturday. “It’s only useful if they get a serious injury or a grave illness. But they’re still on the hook for a lot of money for that deductible, so that’s personally my interest.
“But overall, my concern is just the millions of people in this state and in the country that simply don’t have health care because health insurance is so expensive.”
He said that he doesn’t believe the American people need insurance companies “acting as middle men pushing paper,” and he added that he and the rest of the advocates are pushing for provisions for retraining the insurance company employees for a different kind of work.
“Maybe they should be delivering care instead of denying care,” he said. “It’s more efficient and it covers everybody. Health care is one of the issues where it really shouldn’t be left to the so-called free market and be a for-profit industry.”
Mr. Douglas said that COVID-19 highlighted the need for universal health care.
“It exposed the already existing disparities and flaws in our health care structure more than ever,” he said. “But even in the best of times, pre-COVID, we desperately needed this because millions of people don’t go to see the doctor because they can’t afford it — it’s either: pay your rent or go to the doctor.
“Health care costs are the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the U.S., and that has been that way for some time now, so we need to end that and take away this profit motive from the delivery of health care and have everyone covered, particularly now in a pandemic.”
Zac Smith was born and raised in Carpinteria. He attended the caravan Saturday as a member of the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.
“(I came) to help get health care for all in California however we can, and to put pressure on our elected representatives to support universal health care and show them that the public wants it,” he told the News-Press.
Rep. Carbajal has expressed that he wants to cut down insurance premium costs and prescription drugs in the past, and advocated for a public option for health insurance.
“Congress needs to focus on improving our health care system and ensuring that everyone can afford lifesaving care and medicine — not rolling back protections for millions of Americans,” he said on his website. “I’m also fighting to strengthen our Medicare and Medicaid programs that ensure millions of older Americans and low-income families are not forced to choose between paying their mortgage or paying for lifesaving care.”