California Ready for Single-Payer Insurance … But Who’s Going to Pay for It?

Obamacare enrollment (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

In California, after the state robs the taxpayers of their last pennies, apparently more money just falls out of the sky.

That must be the conclusion reached by a California state senate committee that passed a $400 billion universal healthcare proposal Thursday with no funding plan. Yes, that’s 400 billion with a B, which is more than twice the annual budget for the entire state.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SB 562, which calls for a sweeping overhaul of the state’s health insurance market. His committee passed the bill with a 5-2 vote, clearing the way for it to be taken up on the Senate floor next week. But Lara has yet to reveal a plan about how the state would come up with the money to provide health care to California’s nearly 40 million residents, including illegal immigrants.

But in California, who cares about funding mechanisms? There’s still that $68 billion “bullet train” out there going nowhere. The state doubled down on increasing services for illegals after President Donald Trump pledged to tighten the nation’s borders. And just last month, the state legislature decided to levy even more taxes on gasoline purchases, as Californians will be paying $1 in taxes for every gallon of gas.

And Democratic Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown had the audacity to lecture the taxpayers who complained about the added burden as “freeloaders.”

But this latest single-payer whopper might be a bit too much for even Brown and California’s Democrats, who own a supermajority in both the state senate and assembly, to swallow. Then again, maybe they believe in unicorns.

Lara told the Sacramento Bee that he thinks it’s possible to come up with a sustainable funding mechanism that doesn’t overtax people and guarantees coverage for all. He never mentioned how. Lara said in a statement:

Republicans in Congress voted to strip healthcare from 23 million people without a hearing or a fiscal analysis. We have already held two hearings and had an analysis, and I will be introducing a plan to pay for this program and cover every Californian. With Republicans determined to take away people’s healthcare, we can’t afford to wait.

Part of Lara’s rush is to appease a progressive base that’s never shy about spending other people’s money. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, offered a foul-mouthed tirade at a rally for SB562 that ridiculed those who wanted a fiscal analysis as engaging in “chicken-s*** talk.”

California’s Republican legislators — what’s left of them — wondered out loud if their Democratic colleagues would eventually come to their senses.

“We’re thinking about it as a concept that we’re going to pass without any detail,” Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) told the Bee. “I hope at some point rational thinking kicks in and we’re not just driven by this lobbying effort. Good policy doesn’t come out of intimidation.”

Don’t hold your breath.

Follow Samuel Chi on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru.


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