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Santa Barbara City Council Votes in Support of Medicare for All Resolution 

Local and National Activists React

SANTA BARBARA, CA. – The Santa Barbara City Council this evening unanimously passed a resolution in support of a nationwide Medicare for All program.  The City Council’s consideration of the resolution sends a strong message to California’s congressional delegation that the residents of Santa Barbara are demanding an end to for-profit health care in favor of a universal system without copays or out-of-pocket costs.

Guaranteed health care is needed now more than ever. With a population of over 400,000, Santa Barbara County has already seen 31,000 cases of COVID-19 and almost 400 residents have died of the disease. Prior to the vote, members of the community shared harrowing personal health care stories and why Medicare for All is essential.

Ady Barkan, Santa Barbara resident who co-founded the Be a Hero PAC to fight for health care as a human right after his own devastating ALS diagnosis and testified at the council hearing said “The movement to win Medicare For All is gaining momentum in small towns and big cities all across America. Today, Santa Barbara activists won a huge victory, and our city now officially supports transforming our health insurance system so that it puts people above profits. I urge people across the country to join this struggle.”

”Healthcare is a human right and should not be limited to those with the means to pay sky-high insurance premiums, copays and deductibles. In the best of times, but particularly in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has impacted frontline workers and communities of color in shockingly disparate numbers, now is the time for California government leaders to support single-payer healthcare for all Californians. Our city leaders know the needs of our community best, and our community is calling for high-quality universal healthcare now,” said John Douglas, from the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) Santa Barbara chapter, which organized to push the council to pass the resolution.

Dr. Nancy Greep, a Santa Barbara resident and retired physician, has been a supporter of Medicare for All since teaching medicine in a community clinic. “I saw how difficult it was for uninsured patients to receive care. For example, patients with uncontrolled seizures or recurring gallbladder attacks would have to wait months to see a specialist if at all, while someone with private insurance would be seen within a week or two,” said Greep. “The country needs Medicare for All because it is the only system of health care which provides universal coverage, comprehensive quality care at an affordable cost. The other options our elected officials are talking about, like the public option, expanding the ACA, or decreasing the age eligibility of Medicare to 50 all leave millions still uninsured and increase, rather than decrease national health expenditures.”

“I strongly believe that having access to quality healthcare is a fundamental human right and should be supported on all levels of our communities and governments,” said Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez.

Other cities, including Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Knoxville also have passed resolutions in support of Medicare for All. “Momentum is growing for Medicare for All,” said Melinda St. Louis, campaign director for Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “Cities and counties are joining the millions of voters across the country to  send a message to Congress that health care should be guaranteed for everyone. The pandemic has made it painfully clear that the status quo is unacceptable.”