A proposal to adopt a single-payer healthcare system for California took an initial step forward Thursday when the state Senate approved a bare-bones bill that lacks a method for paying the $400-billion cost of the plan.
The proposal was made by legislators led by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) at the same time President Trump and Republican members of Congress are working to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act.
The bill, which now goes to the state Assembly for consideration, will have to be further developed, Lara conceded, adding he hopes to reach a consensus on a way to pay for it.
Republican senators opposed the bill as a threat to the state’s finances.
“We don’t have the money to pay for it,” Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said. “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB 562, we wouldn’t even cover half of the $400-billion price tag.” (emphasis added)
Lara’s bill would provide a Medicare-for-all-type system that he believed would guarantee health coverage for all Californians without the out-of-pocket costs. Under a single-payer plan, the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare.
The California Nurses Assn., which sponsored the bill, released a fiscal analysis this week that proposed raising the state sales and business receipts taxes by 2.3% to raise $106 billion of the annual cost, with the rest proposed to come from state and federal funding already going to Medicare and Medicaid services.
Even if the bill is approved, it has to go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been skeptical, and then voters would have to exempt it from spending limits and budget formulas in the state Constitution. In addition, the state would have to get federal approval to repurpose existing funds for Medicare and Medicaid.”
The state of California is already facing severe financial difficulties. To try to actually implement something like this, at so staggering a cost, would be reckless for the taxpayers of California. Hopefully, commonsense will prevail.