Gavin Newsom All-In for Single-Payer Healthcare as Governor Lead Evaporates

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is going all-in for a $ $400 billion California-run single-payer health care plan after his 16-point lead in governor race has evaporated.

Newsom announced that the cornerstone of his bid for California governor would now be a promise to pass and sign the Healthy California Act (SB-562). The bill passed the Senate last year but died in the Legislature after Gov. Jerry Brown refused to support it.

Newsom had hoped to avoid having to visibly back his virally controversial effort to force 39 million Californians into socialized medicine. But he was forced to make the risky move to shore up his support from the California Democrat Party’s progressive wing, after the most recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll revealed Newsom’s 18-point September lead fell to 10 points in December and evaporated by February.

Newsom’s most powerful and ardent allies in his race for governor are union members of the California Nurses Association, who have endorsed him in every one of his campaigns since he enacted Healthy San Francisco (HSF) as mayor in 2006 as the state’s first step toward a state-run health plan. The wildly expensive $100 million universal access coverage for 57,000 Medi-Cal qualified low-income workers, shriveled after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

The nurses’ support has been crucial to Newsom dominating the governor’s race by raising $21.2 million. That compares to Democrat fund-raising of just $8.2 million for California Treasurer John Chiang and $7.4 million for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Republican fund-raising leader John Cox has only raised $4 million.

KQED public television described Newsom as trying to make California socialized medicine a type of credibility litmus test for Democrats in the governor race June 5 primary election. At the nurses’ convention in September, Newsom touted San Francisco’s had universal coverage “regardless of pre-existing conditions, regardless of your ability to pay and regardless of your immigration status — the only city with universal health care.”

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.”

Having probably pulled ahead since the last poll, Antonio Villaraigosa has been trying to keep his distance from Newsom pushing him far to the Left in support of socialized medicine in the June primary, then being painted as a tax-and-spend liberal in the November general election.

The PPIC poll last April revealed that 56 percent of likely voters support a generic California-run single-payer healthcare plan. But when the poll added that the California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that SB-562 would raise taxes by at least $50 billion, support tanked to 43 percent, due to independent voter opposition to new taxes.

Villaraigosa responded to a question about single-payer by stating, “Am I for single payer? I’m philosophically for it. But we gotta address the fact that it costs $400 billion. And anybody who’s telling you we should do it without a plan is selling you snake oil.”


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