Lobby Day



Single-Payer Student Activism Still Strong in the Wake of Federal Reform

By Molly Tavella

Although the shadow of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 loomed over this year’s student lobby day, organized by the California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA), it couldn’t touch the enthusiasm of the students that came from all over California to demand just health care for all. High-energy shouting and chanting filled the air to the beat of the “drum for justice” as over 300 health professional students from all over California marched one mile down the busy Capitol Mall to join over 300 community members on the North steps of the State Capitol for a rally. Banners, homemade posters, and picket signs bobbed up and down as the crowd demanded single-payer through bullhorns. In fact, the chants were so loud that during a moment of silence deep inside of the Capitol, all of the staffers could hear them!

This is the sixth lobby day organized solely for students by CaHPSA, a completely student-run group of over 3000 members, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Fueled with the information that BlueShield is proposing yet another health insurance premium rate hike, this time as high as 59%, and California is proposing to cut $1.7 billion from MediCal, it’s major health safety net program, the students were able to make their voice not only heard, but remembered, as it was the very first day of the 2011 legislative session. CaHPSA plans it this way every year so that it will stick in the representatives’ minds.

The student’s are prepared well for this often first-time experience in lobbying. CAHPSA’s student lobby day is unique in that it offers a seven-hour training the day before, in which the students are educated about single payer and taught how to lobby for the California Universal Health Care Act, SB810, authored by Senator Mark Leno.  The students learn what to expect, common myths about a single-payer system, and how to respond to them. This year, over 30 schools in California were represented, as well as 15 different health degree programs. By far, the most represented population was medical students. “Medical students need to be part of this movement for single payer. Our broken health care system allows people to die simply because they do not have health care and bankrupts those with insurance who cannot afford the increasing costs of health care. We need to speak up demand a healthcare revolution as the only solution,” said Yasser Giron, a third year UC Irvine medical student and Southern California CaHPSA president. Although medical students started CaHPSA, it is important for all allied health professionals to be in this movement and CaHPSA strives to be inclusive of all.

The more students that know about this cause, the brighter its future looks. This year, CaHPSA did exceptionally well in reaching out to new students, as 77% of attendees had never previously been to a CaHPSA student lobby day. We also managed to help convince almost 30% of our attendees that a single-payer health system was the best choice for California to decrease costs, increase quality, and extend fair and comprehensive coverage to the entire population. 60% of our attendees were already single-payer supporters, while 10% were still unsure.

Also in strong support this year was the Latino community, which may be a response to many undocumented workers in California being left out of the recent health reform.

After learning about single-payer and how to lobby on behalf of single payer on Sunday from policy experts, current physicians, and current professors, all students met with their legislators. This year, the CaHPSA team of students worked really hard to match all students with their actual representatives so that legislators would hear from their own constituents. With over 100 legislative visits, the students spoke to almost every single member of congress and dropped off information packets to those who they were not able to meet with. Although the legislature seems more cautious this year in the wake of devastating budget cuts and the federal health reform, we still have staunch support from numerous members of the senate and assembly.

Another change we have in 2011 is a Democratic governor, Jerry Brown. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed the bill twice, out of office, we are at least filled with hope that Brown can be persuaded, especially when he sees how much money California could save by enacting a single-payer system. These savings were projected to be around eight billion dollars by a financial analysis done by the Lewin Group in 2005. Since this study was over five years ago, California single-payer advocates are pledging to get a new study out soon, which will compare the new federal reform to a single-payer system in California.

This year’s lobby day was also exciting in that a professional sponsorship form was developed to garner financial and in-kind support from organizations that also fight for single-payer health care. This evolution is only the beginning in CaHPSA’s journey to become more professional every year. Several groups responded to our request, including Physicians for a National Health Program – California, CaHPSA’s main sponsor, the California School Employees Association, the California Nurses Association, the California Federation of Teachers, HealthCare for All California, Single Payer Now, Lifelong Medical Care, the PRIME program at UCSF, the LMSA program at UCSF, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, CaliforniaOneCare, Labor United for Healthcare Reform, Progressive Democrats of America, the American Medical Student Association, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Amnesty International USA, and the California State Strategy Group for Single Payer.

Although we could never have done it without the support of our sponsors, the real thanks needs to go to the student officers of CaHPSA. All fourteen students, along with the PNHP California undergraduate intern, spent countless volunteer hours to make this event happen. They scheduled the legislative appointments, planned logistics, and increased awareness. The students had also done some preliminary work during several campus talks throughout California, and Northern and Southern California Single-Payer Conferences.

Even though Lobby Day 2011 is over, the CaHPSA students will continue to spread their passion to their peers and help foster new CaHPSA chapters to those that already exist.  The Single-Payer Movement will continue, even after the full federal reform takes place, because we know that this reform did not do enough. Millions of people will still be without health insurance, millions more will be underinsured, and we will still be paying twice as much as we should. CaHPSA will continue to rally for single payer, and encourage others to join us in growing the next big social justice movement in California: fighting for comprehensive, affordable health care for all.

In collaboration with PNHP California, PNHP, AMSA, CNA, CSEA, UCSF PRIME, LMSA, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, SinglePayerNow, California OneCare, Lifelong Medical Care, Labor United for Healthcare, Healthcare for ALL California, and CaHPSA Student Group Affiliates in California

Registration is open to all Health Professional Students of all disciplines and degree programs, as well as pre-Health Professional Students, graduates, friends and supporters of CaHPSA and Single-Payer Healthcare Reform.



2011 CaHPSA Video

Created by: Joseph Foy

2012 Lobby Day Video, check it out!

Created by: Joseph Foy



For questions concerning the training/lobby day contact: Keyon Mitchell, Shearer Student Fellow at keyon@pnhpcalifornia.org.


Picture it now... 300+ dancers in white coats/scrubs "mobbing" in front of the State Capital! 

As CaHPSA leadership builds up media anticipation toward our large-scale media stunt, your participation is a key part to this viral success at our first flashmob in attempt. THIS IS HUGE!


                                  Here’s what you need:

  1. 1.    Register for Lobby Day

  2. 2.    Practice the 2-minute dance *A weekly 30 second module will be uploaded here

         Module 1 ~    Module 2  ~ Module 3 ~ Module 4

           Full Choreography

3.     What to wearBring your "health professional attire" (white coat/scrubs/your badge, etc). Let's show the community watching who we are and why we are here in this captivating way! Make sure to get creative with how you represent "health professional attire"


**Dance Tip: When watching the videos, please keep in mind to move in synchronization with Makou, the choreographer. So if she moves her left foot, you move your left foot too! It is important to imagine the video as if Makou is dancing in front of you. Her professional dance team will lead us on this day in front!**

***If you purchase a ticket and for some unforeseen reason cannot attend, please consider your ticket a donation to the cause of providing quality, affordable healthcare for all Californians***

Social Media

Instagram Contest

We’ve seen you all take plenty of shots of Lobby Day in the previous Lobby Days and this year we are taking it up a notch with our Instagram Campaign!

Step 1. Download the free app onto your smartphone

Step 2.This is how I lobby!Take pictures of our current healthcare system, public health issues, CaHPSA events and anything that you feel represents why student involvement is dire to legislative advocacy in favor of single-payer healthcare

Step 3. Hashtag #cahpsalobbyday to the picture

Step 4. CaHPSA will award the top 3 most captivating pictures & post


In attempt to increase CaHPSA’s social media presence, we’ve decided that discounts will only be offered through our Lobby Day facebook page. Please join the CaHPSA group and check daily for special registration discount codes!

Lobby Day 2014 Presentations

Dr Deborah LeVeen                         

ACA Presentation