Single-Payer Effort Gains Traction In California

With all the recent breaking news and the daily discombobulation generated by the Donald Trump regime, people here might not be aware that the grassroots movement to create a single-payer medical system in California is gaining traction.

Last week, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon created a Select Committee to study universal medical coverage and now the California Democratic Party has voted unanimously to endorse Senate Bill 562.

This is the latest news from the Healthy California organization, which has vigorously supported Senate Bill 562, which would create a single-payer system in the state. Under the proposal, Californians would have access to free medical and dental care under a Medicare-for-all system.

The California Senate, in an historic move, voted to approve SB 562, but Rendon pulled the bill from consideration in the Assembly last June over concerns about the costs of the new system. Supporters of the bill were highly disappointed in Rendon’s action, arguing the funding details for program were still under debate. The Select Committee would not have the power to approve SB 562, but it could push Rendon to bring the bill back for consideration.

The broader argument for how the system would be funded, according to Healthy California, is that . . . “a payroll and income premium, which is higher for upper income earners, would replace insurance company premiums, co-pays and deductibles.” The organization makes the point, “No more double-digit premium increases.”

What’s also important to note is that people wouldn’t be paying for the profits of insurance companies as part of their health care nor would they have to buy for-profit health insurance or pay astronomical amounts for dependent coverage through their employer.

I parsed through the numbers and some misleading information in the media about the proposed system in this earlier post. The bottom line is that such a system can and will work in a large state, such as California.

Although Trump and his Republican supporters were recently unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and take away medical access for millions of people to essentially give rich people tax cuts, this doesn’t mean the GOP won’t continue to sabotage the current system through administration edict, such as defunding, and drive up insurance premiums for everyone.

The United States is the only developed and wealthiest nation in the world that doesn’t have some form of universal coverage. It’s both a question of morality—health care should be a human right—and costs, which are significantly lower in other countries. The profits of insurance companies have continued to outweigh the health of our country’s residents to the detriment of medical outcomes. The fact that the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate—it has dropped recently—among developed nations in the world is shameful.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, who once supported a single payer system, backed away from his former position as SB 562 was considered and questioned how the new system would be funded. Some political observers believe Rendon’s decision to pull the measure from consideration was based on Brown’s lack of support. Both Rendon and Brown could change their minds as the Trump regime continues its administrative and its verbal, lying assault on Obamacare.

It’s apparent our health care system still faces an unsustainable crisis and that the major political party in charge at the national level—the GOP—only views the issue as another way to shift money to the wealthy. A single-payer system shifts the debate away from making profits to providing health care to people in efficient, cost-effective ways.

New York is also considering a single-payer system. The time has come for basic reality and truth to take precedence in the public arguments over health care. California can and should lead the way.

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