Students for single-payer

They’re getting ready to lobby their legislators

About the authors:

Paul O'Rourke-Babb (right) has been a nurse practitioner for 27 years. He is a longtime member of Physicians for a National Health Program and the Butte County Health Care Coalition. Joseph Katz, a pre-medical student at CSUC, is a cofounder and former president of CaHPSA Chico State.

In the fall of 2011 a few Chico State students founded the local chapter of the California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA). CaHPSA is a student-based advocacy group working alongside Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) to institute a public single-payer health-insurance system in the state of California.

The goal of CaHPSA is to promote awareness of current health-care legislation in California as well as strengthen the leadership and advocacy skills of students and future health-care professionals.

Last January the founding members of CaHPSA Chico State atttended Sacramento Lobby Day, CaHPSA’s biggest annual event. Lobby Day consists of more than 300 students and health-care professionals throughout the state gathering to meet with our California legislators and lobby on behalf of the California Universal Health Care Act, previously Senate Bill 810.

Lobby Day is actually two full days. This year’s “training day” will be held on Sunday, Feb. 10, when students meet with physicians, public officials and health-policy experts to gain insight on current health-care policy and single-payer and to learn to effectively lobby their state representatives. The following day, Monday, Feb. 11, is the actual lobby day in which students and other advocates have scheduled meetings with state representatives. CaHPSA members attending Lobby Day last year managed to meet with nearly all members of the Legislature. Unfortunately SB 810 failed to pass in the Senate, receiving 19 of the necessary 21 votes.

All students who attended gained significant insight on the status of health care in California, potential reform through single-payer, and the type of work that will be necessary for successfully instituting a comprehensive single-payer health-care system in our state.

As a nurse practitioner, I’m well aware of the critical need to establish a universal health-insurance system in which premiums are paid only for direct health-care needs. It’s cheaper, broader and fairer.

For more information about both CaHPSA and PNHP, including the local chapters, you can contact us at or 530-321-9646. CaHPSA and PNHP will once again be hosting Lobby Day this year, and we invite you to join the students on Feb. 11 in Sacramento. Because it’s time we stop letting our health and health care be held hostage by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.