A Little-Known Activist Thinks Big About Single-Payer


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There’s a new guy in Sacramento-town — and he’s leading the charge to ease funding for “single-payer” health care in California.

He’s not a doctor or nurse, not a lobbyist or legislator. Dale Fountain, 42, is a publicity-shy high-tech worker seeking signatures for his proposed ballot initiative, mostly through Facebook.

He’s not paying any signature gatherers — and leading experts predict he can’t possibly get enough to make the November ballot. (That would be 585,000 by the end of April.)

Still, his group, Enact Universal Healthcare for California, is getting some attention, and has more than 106,000 followers on its Facebook page. The California Healthcare Roadblock Removal Act would give the state solid legal footing to raise billions of taxpayer dollars needed to finance single-payer health care.

A single-payer system would, by current estimates, cost taxpayers an extra $200 billion a year. Fountain’s initiative would set up a separate fund for health care so it would not be limited by state budget rules, such as a requirement to funnel a portion of the money to education.

With controversial single-payer legislation stalled in the legislature, Democratic lawmakers are pursuing more incremental steps to fill in the gaps of the current insurance-based health care system. Those proposals include expanding health care access to undocumented immigrants and making coverage more affordable to people who buy health insurance on their own.

Fountain wants to take his case directly to the people.

Even though a publicly funded health care system for all seems years away, if obtainable at all, California Assembly Health Committee Chair Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) says removing funding obstacles would be “critical” to fund a sweeping universal health care project like single-payer. “We need the building blocks to move forward,” Wood said.

California Healthline reporter Pauline Bartolone wrote about Fountain’s efforts this week and discussed the issue with Barbara Bogaev, guest host of the radio show “Press Play” on the Santa Monica-based public radio station, KCRW.

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