Members of the California Nurses Association and volunteers gathered at Pierson Park in Mckinleyville on Feb. 10 to inform residents about the Healthy California Act SB 562, and urge them to call state assemblyman Jim Wood.
The bill guarantees healthcare coverage to all California residents, but was shelved by assembly speaker Anthony Rendon.
Humboldt State University student Jacob Stockwell is having trouble getting health insurance. He needs PPO insurance, but his is HMO.
“I have a polyp in the brain,” Stockwell said. “I have to get an MRI and go down to Santa Cruz. It’s an eight-hour drive… it’s not even worth it.”
Member of California Nurses Association Patricia Kanzler has openly criticized Wood on different committees before for not taking action on SB 562.
“He’s a hypocrite,” Kanzler said. “He says he’s for single-payer healthcare, but there’s a bill right out there. If he’s so enthusiastic on single-payer, then why the hell isn’t he working on it? That really pisses me off.”
Political science professor Kevin Murray volunteered in support of the California Nurses Association.
“We’re not selling anything,” Murray said to residents after hesitantly opening their doors. “If we all share our horror stories, we’d realize this system is rigged.”
Canvass volunteer Margy Emerson wore a metal button on her jacket that read ‘Healthcare is a human right’ in support of the cause. Emerson said the bill is important morally and economically.
“I’m convinced that if one state gets it, the rest of the states will follow,” Emerson said.
Volunteers met Mckinleyville resident Wilford Ward in his driveway while he worked on his car.
“This needs to be fixed,” Ward said. “I’m paying $1,000 a month. It’s unconstitutional. There is something wrong when you’re talking about inequities. The rule of government is to protect its citizens. I’m getting screwed over.”
Originally, Fred Brewster thought he signed up to volunteer, but ended up hosting a canvass. Brewster has been able to have health insurance on and off by working seasonal jobs.
“I’ll have health insurance for part of the year, and then not for part of the year,” Brewster said. “It’s always a constant fight and worry to make sure I had asthma medicine.”
Brewster created a petition in the past to stop Starbucks from opening in Yosemite National Park, but he has never hosted a canvass before.
“Going door to door puts a face to the movement,” Brewster said. “It allows [for] a more personal interaction with the people. It is not some distanced thing.”
Organizer Phil Kim used Territory Helper, a website created by Jehovah’s Witness congregations for their canvassing, to print maps of Mckinleyville neighborhoods for volunteers.
“They do a lot of door-knocking,” Kim said. “It’s kind of funny they’re helping us out, [because] we’re using the program they created. It helps to coordinate where everyone is walking, so people aren’t knocking on the same doors. It’s a way of dividing the maps in little sections.”
Anne Olivia Eldred is a part of the California Nurses Association. She said it’s better to take care of people before they get sick, rather than waiting until they need immediate treatment that is expensive.
“I see what not having access to healthcare looks like,” Eldred said. “There are people who are dying every day, because of lack of access, and that’s ridiculous.”