Like millions of people across our country, I understand the struggle of not having access to healthcare. There have been times in my life when I went without healthcare, whether I was in between jobs or just couldn’t afford it. Everyone must have access to comprehensive quality care, even if they can’t afford it. We’re required to pay hefty premiums for insurance plans that don’t meet all our needs. As long as healthcare is sold as a commodity for the profit of private companies, millions will be denied access to care, causing tens of thousands of early deaths, or force people to choose between paying for their health insurance or pay for their rent or food and force others into bankruptcy or pushed into poverty. None of us knows when a health emergency will affect us, and no one should fear going bankrupt if it happens. This must change.
This is why I support Medicare for All. The United States spends more money on healthcare than any other industrialized nation. Over 33 million Americans are uninsured and 40 million can’t afford the costs of their copays or deductibles. In Kern County alone, there are over 100,000 people uninsured. Most of the uninsured are Latino and millennials and one-in-three earns less than $25,000 per year. National Nurses United with more than 170,000 nurses and many other unions support Medicare for All. And Medicare for All also benefits businesses that would no longer have to manage their employees’ healthcare, which would allow them to offer higher wages.
We have seen during the COVID-19 crisis how the economy is stacked against working people. Too many hardworking people in our economy continue to be left behind. In Kern County, the unemployment rate is 3 percentage points higher than the rest of the state. That’s unacceptable! I will always fight for the little guy, the working stiff, and not only fight for better jobs, but for union jobs. Being a member of two unions, I know the value of being able to organize for better wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work.
We need more union-led, pro-worker apprenticeship training programs, which are the backbone of our nation’s economy and infrastructure. An economy that doesn’t put profits over people. I’ll fight for the PRO Act, which would give workers more bargaining power. And I’m 100% for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Here in the Valley, our economy is dependent on its access to water. We can create jobs and put people back to work by fixing our crumbling water infrastructure. The Valley is also known for its energy production and not just from fossil fuels. We need to prioritize investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.