Healthcare for All, not Healthcare for Most

In Dr. Mahmood’s practice, at Huntington Hospital, and as a volunteer for the North Hollywood free clinic, he has seen how healthcare policies enacted in Washington, DC and Sacramento have impacted Californians over the last eighteen years. He has worked with Californians terrified by politicians’ repeated efforts to make cuts to lifesaving programs like Medicare, Planned Parenthood, the Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and countless others. These policy fights are very real for so many Californians – and Dr. Mahmood sees how his patients carry that stress, that fear, that helplessness into his doctor’s office every day. He has seen it time and again – patients struggle to find ways to pay for expensive procedures or medications, or they put off getting that necessary medical care until they are sure they will be covered.

More often than not, these problems are exacerbated when other factors are taken into account like race or income level. For example, while 22% of all California women do not have a doctor, that number increases when looking at women of color – 49% of Latino women and 24% of black women do not have a doctor or healthcare provider. 14% of California adults who live below the federal poverty level do not have health coverage. 6% children are still not covered by health insurance – that’s more than more than 206,000 children in California. That is unacceptable.

That’s why Dr. Mahmood made it a rule in his practice – he has never charged a patient if they did not have insurance.

It’s also why he is in favor of Medicare for All at the federal level and an effective single-payer system at the state level. After their failure to pass SB562, legislators are now refusing to re-address the issue this session because they need to “heal relationships,” rather than joining Dr. Mahmood in focusing on healing Californians’ actual health. While people are dying without access to affordable care, it is an outrage that politicians are instead prioritizing internal politics.

As Insurance Commissioner, Dr. Mahmood will do everything he can to put pressure on the legislature to pass this important bill. Whether that is convening doctors, patients and advocates who share the experience of trying to care for patients who cannot afford necessary medical services, or working with legislative staff to write the legislation, he will do whatever it takes to make this necessary reform a reality. Dr. Mahood knows that the legislation will only be effective if people like him are leaders in the drafting process, because he actually knows how these policies will play out in doctors’ offices around the state. When it comes to finding a way to pay for the program, he will keep a close eye on the legislation that is being drafted to ensure legislators are not setting the state up for failure – but everything has to be on the table. California is the 6th largest economy in the world, and leaders can’t afford to continue depriving Californians of affordable care.