California Senate passes single-payer health care proposal, but it's already facing an uphill battle

California looks to become the first state to provide its citizens with health care, but some argue it's too costly

Published June 4, 2017 6:33PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Don Emmert)
(Getty/Don Emmert)

The California state Senate passed a single-payer health care proposal on Thursday, but the bill has a long road ahead and the state must still determine how to bear the costs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The proposal has been led by Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara, who believes that health care is a right for all citizens. If the bill comes into is ever made into law, California would become the first state in the U.S. to enact universal health care coverage. "Under a single-payer plan, the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare," the Times reported.

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During a floor debate on the bill, Lara argued that there are millions of Californians who are still unable to afford proper treatment. "Despite the incredible progress California has made, millions still do not have access to health insurance and millions more cannot afford the high deductibles and co-pays, and they often forgo care," he said.

"For me, this issue is personal. This is the right fight, and the right thing to do for California’s families, children and seniors," Lara added, according to his press release.

But the bill, SB 562, is still in its early stages and entails a potential $400 billion cost.

The Times reported:

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.

However Gerald Friedman, a University of Massachusetts economist, has argued that "California’s analysts erred by understating health care cost savings and failing to subtract current health care spending from their projected payroll tax increase." Friedman's ultimate conclusion was that "single-payer would save the public and businesses money via cutting bureaucratic costs and negotiating for drugs.

Nonetheless the bill is a step forward for those looking to ensure a larger blanket of health coverage, but it moves in the exact opposite direction of President Donald Trump's agenda even though he bizarrely praised Australia for their health care recently — which is subsidized by the government.

It's unclear what will happen with Lara's proposal, but it will now travel to the state Assembly for further development, according to the Times. Republicans in the state have opposed the bill and have argued it isn't affordable.

"We don’t have the money to pay for it," Sen. Tom Berryhill said, according to the Times. He also argues that health care belongs in the private sector and out of the hands of the government. "I absolutely don’t trust the government to run our health system,” Berryhill said. “What has the government ever done right?”

By Charlie May

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California Health Care Medicare For All Ricardo Lara Sb 562