California Legislature Takes First Step Towards Single-Payer Health Care

Oakland anti-Trump protest (Ben Margot / Associated Press)
Ben Margot / Associated Press

The Democrat-controlled California legislature held its first hearing Wednesday on the state adopting a single-payer health care system, nationalizing $287 billion of health care spending for 24 million residents.

With Obamacare’s days numbered, California Democrats are proposing the “Healthy California Act” (HCA) as a replacement.

The real power behind HCA is the California Nurses Association / National Nurses Organizing Committee / AFL-CIO union, ranked as one of the fastest growing unions in the U.S. with 86,000 dues paying members in hospitals, clinics and home health agencies. The California union and its national brothers and sisters have not been shy about stating that their goal is to end free enterprise insurance, and replace it with single-payer “Medicare for All.”

HCA’s sponsor, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), claims the California legislation will give every resident the right to health care, because “Trump and the Republicans don’t get to pick the health care winners and losers.”

Lara praised Governor Jerry Brown’s support for “Health 4 All Kids” (SB 4), a law that, beginning on July 1, will spend $279.5 million of general fund revenues per year to provide free Medi-Cal coverage to 185,000 mostly illegal alien/undocumented minors. Lara’s HCA goal is to extend government-backed healthcare to all Californians, regardless of citizenship.

But with the UCLA Health Policy Research Center estimating that the state’s non-Medicare health spending is $287 billion, Lara’s bill, if passed, would more than triple the size of the California’s state budget.

Lara trumpets that with two-thirds of California resident with one HCA plan, individuals will be relieved from the burden of “plan-switching or guesswork when insurance rates or plans change.” Lara claims, “By pooling health care funds in a publicly-run fund we get the bargaining power of the seventh largest economy,” which he says will end insurance company waste, and control co-pays and high deductibles. He adds that just like Obamacare, with the state controlling all health provider payments, “you pick your doctor, not health insurers.”

But Lara knows that the real reason Obamacare is about to be repealed is that the national Benchmark Average Premium rose by 25 percent in 2017. Obamacare supporters often claim that U.S. health coverage expanded by 20 million. But the real number, according to the Kaiser Foundation, is 14,409,600, with 11,183,800 signing up to obtain free Medicaid, and the rest forced to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

Despite 14 million people being added to the U.S. workforce since the 2010 passage of Obamacare, only 3,266,900 more individuals received insurance through Obamacare or private employment plans. That seems to confirm a Center for Immigration Studies analysis that most employment gains under President Barack Obama were low-wage and no-benefit jobs that went to new immigrants — just the type of workers who appear to have benefited from the Medicaid expansion.

Lara announced that HCA officially known as SB 562, won support in the Democrat-controlled Senate Committee on Health and will be heard next by the Appropriations Committee, which Senator Lara chairs. A study of the financial costs of the legislation is already underway.


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