Proposition 186 was an initiative on the November 1994 California ballot which proposed to establish a state single-payer health care program. Although Prop 186 was overwhelmingly defeated in the November 1994 election (73% No, 27% Yes), it accomplished many things. Model legislation was developed showing the feasibility of a specific single-payer program for California. It was placed on the ballot by an unprecedented volunteer signature-gathering effort and was the largest grassroots political campaign fund-raising effort in California history. A novel strategy for the discussion of complex issues through 1500 house parties was launched. Prop 186 was defeated by an insurance industry-led coalition with an anti-government message. Lessons for future efforts include increasing the size and duration of the grassroots organizing and educational effort, and decreasing reliance on conventional political campaign tactics and the mainstream media.
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Farey, K., Lingappa, V. California's Proposition 186: Lessons from a Single-Payer Health Care Reform Ballot Initiative Campaign. J Public Health Pol 17, 133–152 (1996). https://doi.org/10.2307/3342694