April 2000

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Wed., April 5 All Day!

Statewide "Call the Governor Day," and urge him to get SB480 moving!


Wed. April 5 Board of Supervisor's Finance Committe will hear testimony concerning

public financing in S.F. Call Common Cause for more info: 415/554-5145 or


Thurs., April 6 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. All welcome!

Thurs., April 13 10:00 a.m.­noon

SAN: Ellis act Symposium: Let's Talk Solutions! St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough

Mon., April 17 4:00 p.m.

Protest IMF and World Bank policies in support of the mass demonstration planned for Washington, D.C., on the same day. Justin Herman Plaza. Info 415/219-0580. Tues., April 18 12:30­3:00 p.m.

Membership Meeting: Whose World Is It? From the role of youth to global warming on the future of the planet. First Unitarian Church, Geary and Franklin.

Sat., April 22 10:00 a.m.­5:00 p.m.

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Earth Day! A fair at Civic Center Plaza joins the world-wide observance with speakers, demonstrations, fields for action, and enter tainment. More info, 415/701-9864 ext. 16.

Sat., April 22 10:30 a.m.­12:15 p.m.

OWL: Relaxation, Meditation and Stress Management Techniques presented by

Pragito Dove, MA, CCH. Info, 415/989-4422.

Sun., April 30 6:45 p.m.

Benefit for KPFA and community radio. Utah Phillips and other free speech advocates will perform and ask for donations to this cause.

First Unitarian Church Sanctuary, Geary and Franklin.

Action Is the Name of Our Game

As the huge attendance at our March meeting testifies, the causes the Gray Panthers of San Francisco espouse are the social causes that stir fires of action among people of conscience in our community.

In April we have invited several leading movers and shakers in our social community to describe actions that will correct and preserve the ecosystem from which we have evolved.

Tom Dickerman was the guiding force behind the large and well attended public power forum "Alliance for Municipal Power" in November of 1997. More recently he is the author of "Global Warming and Its Solution: Sustainable Energy."

Jeff Sheehy is circulating a petition to form a Municipal Utility District in S.F. We can see a model of such a district in Sacramento which has lower utility rates and encourages solar development.

Organic Consumers Association's Simon Harris will examine serious questions arising from the push to rely on genetically modified food for our basic food supplies.

Representing youth organizations, Jasmine Barker of 3rd Eye; and a Sierra Club representative, will discuss the research backing the arguments in H.R. 1396 that mitigate against logging in our National Forests.

Bring an activist friend to share the Gray Panthers' push for social action!

Packed March Coalition Meeting

Our exciting March meeting took a giant step toward one of our organizational goalsbuilding and facilitating coalitions of like-minded individuals and groups, in this case for Universal Health Care (UHC). Over a hundred people met on this sunny Saturday afternoon to plan common strategy and action on national, stae and local levels.

In opening remarks by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, he declared all politics are local, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health is in poor shape because of a lack of local political will. Providing UHC is a class issue, he declared. Though the booming S.F. economy has city coffers overflowing, we are threatened with closure of S.F. General's pharmacies and psychiatric clinics. But these drastic measures haven't sufficiently moved the Board of Supervisors to question departmental figures, budgets and aims.

What can we do? Bombard the media, demonstrate, speak at Board meetings, civil disobedience, make health care a litmus test for every supervisorial candidate for district elections, keep health care on the front burner. Change the official local political will!

Ammiano was followed by speakers from organizations that cosponsored this meeting. Neil MacLean of the Unitarian Universalist Just Economic Community described speaking to religious groups, countering versions of the old, surprisingly prevalent Calvinist traditional claims that people are sick because they "sin."

Michael Lyon of the S.F. Alliance for Health urged action to expand existing facilities, resist cut backs and fight disparities in all health care, not just the Department of Public Health. And Lisa Coffey, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley's assistant, reported on the status of SB 480. This bill sets up a state commission to report on UHC statewide and was passed and signed last legislative session and sent to the State Department of Health and Human Services. So far nothing has happened. Nothing will happen without public pressure. Write and call your Sacramento representatives including Shelley, Migden and Burton. Get them moving!

Francis Payne of Neighbor-to­Neighbor suggested a different tack. Now is the time to get employers to join us! In 1994 when Proposition 186 was defeated, health costs to employers were going down. But in 1998 they started going up again and companies became concerned. Convince corporate human resource managers that UHC will keep their costs down and help their bottom line.

Howard Wallace spoke for SEIU Hospital Local 250 warning that there will be no easy fix, and that we must have direct, militant action to challenge the corporate culture. He attacked local so-called non-profit HMOs like Sutter and Catholic Healthcare West for understaffing and cutting charity care.

Don Bechler of Health Care for All S.F. described the genesis of U2K-UHC 2000 nationally (National Council of Churches, Gray Panthers and Universal Health Care Action Network) that we reflect locally, and the need to increase our visibility and importance in the upcoming political campaigns.

Lively questions and comments followed the official speakers. Among the proposals: April 5th is a statewide day to call the Governor916/445-4341and urge him to get SB480 moving. Tie up his lines all day. June 22 is the Health Budget hearings at the Board of Supervisors in room 263 at 1:00 p.m. Be there to demand adequate health care for all San Franciscans. A proposal was made for a date in the fall to rally for UHC in Sacramento and locally for accessible, affordable and quality health care!

If you missed this forum, we have tapes of the event, thanks to Neil MacLean. Many more strategy ideas were advocated by our audience.

New Gray Panther Brochure

Do you ask friends and neighbors to join you in the Gray Panthers of San Francisco? And do they answer "I'm not old enough yet."

We've published a new outreach brochure inviting just those people to join us. Take a few at our next meeting or when you next visit our officeor we'll send you some if you call. It speaks to the "age thing" so you don't have to!

What Is SB 480Universal Health Care?

"It is the intent of the Legislature to create a process by which the options for achieving universal health care coverage can be thoroughly examined "

SB 480, a bill that Health Care for All­California helped to write and led the lobbying efforts for, was passed last year and signed by Governor Davis in October 1999. It requires the California Secretary of Health and Human Services to convene a task force to discuss options for achieving universal health care. A final report on recommendations to define, finance and deliver universal care is due before the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2001.

This is obviously a great opportunity to promote real UHC and the advantage of single-payer true health care reform over incremental and market-based (voucher) reforms.

So what is happening? To date, zilch. No commission has been appointed, no staff has been hired. The public must push their legislators and the Department to get things moving.

Call Migden, Shelley and Burton to urge action. Mark your calendar for April 5 to call the governor.

"An Unmitigated Disaster "

So said Jackie Speier, D­Daly City, who co-chaired a Senate Hearing on the state's health care crisis.

"California has lost 19 emergency rooms since 1997, while the number of visits have increased from 8.8 million to 10 million this year." Doctors told horror stories about lines of people on gurneys in crowded hallways, near-death experiences for patients and the refusal of insurers to pay a reasonable amount for services, if they pay at all.

"There is a federal mandate for care," said Dan Abbott, medical director of the emergency department at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton, "but no federal mandate for payment."

Diversion (turning away ambulances from overcrowded emergency facilities) had become so frequent in January, the City's Health Department had to suspend the procedure more than once- every-third-day, according to John Brown, director of emergency services. "It's a slow motion disaster," Brown said," we will be having preventable deaths."

Call, write, scream, lobby, picket, make the Legislature move!!!

The Newsletter of the San Francisco Gray Panthers is published each month, and distributed free of charge to members and friends of this nonprofit organization.

Editorial Board: Rebecca Hirshleifer, Mitzi Raas; Publisher, Astrid M. Spector; Art Director, Fannie Biderman; Proof, Lurilla Harris; Circulation: Harold Greenblatt and Mary Francis Smith. Printed by Graffik Natwicks; Webpage design: Barry Simpkins

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