Kuehl Introduces Bill To Create Single-Payer Health Insurance System
As expected, Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) on Wednesday introduced a bill (SB 840) that would create a state-run health insurance system -- including a state agency, commissioner and medical board -- to "negotiate fees, set policy on medical issues and pay claims," the Oakland Tribune reports. Health coverage would be extended to all state residents under the bill (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 2/24).
The measure builds on a similar bill Kuehl introduced in 2003 that passed the Senate and stalled in the Assembly (California Healthline, 1/20).
Critics of Kuehl's bill, including business groups and health insurers, have said the measure would create excessive bureaucracy, reduce personal choice and ration care.
Jeff Miles, past president of the California Association of Health Underwriters, said, "Instituting a socialized health care system at a time when the state continues to grapple with a crushing budget deficit is not the solution to California's health care challenges."
Kuehl said her plan does not promote socialized health care.
Assembly Health Committee Chair Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) said in a statement, "We need a health plan that covers all Californians, promotes quality, preserves choice and costs less."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has not stated a position on the bill (Oakland Tribune, 2/24).
KQED's "The California Report" on Thursday reported on Kuehl's proposal. The segment includes comments from Kuehl; Robert Reed, spokesperson for Norcal Waste Systems, a California business that pays all health care costs for its unionized employees; and Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge), who this month with Assembly member Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) announced a proposal for legislation that would require California residents to maintain health care coverage (Shafer, "The California Report," KQED, 2/24). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.