Lawmakers Revisit Plan To Create Single-Payer Health Care in California
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 6-3 along party lines to approve a bill (SB 810) designed to lay the foundation for a state-run, single-payer health care system in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
All Democratic committee members voted in favor of the bill while all Republican members rejected it (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22).
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 810 last year, but the bill was put on hold during the state's previous budget negotiations. The appropriations committee revived the legislation so the full Senate could consider the proposal before a Jan. 31 deadline for passing last year's bills (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/21).
Leno's bill also is nearly identical to two other single-payer proposals that have passed through the Legislature in recent years.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed both previous measures (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22).
Single-Payer Plan Details
Leno's legislation would merge California's public and private health insurance systems and fold them into a new California Healthcare Agency.
The agency would negotiate with health care providers, determine fee structures and pay medical claims.
The bill also would prohibit private health insurance companies from offering the same benefits as the state-run plan.
All Californians would be eligible for coverage under the system (Vorderbrueggen, Contra Costa Times, 1/21). The measure also would expand eligibility for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (McKinley, New York Times, 1/22).
Leno's single-payer plan would cost about $210 billion during its first year, which is nearly twice the size of California's current general fund.
However, Leno said his proposal would cost about as much as the federal government, state government and residents currently spend on health care in California (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/21).
The legislation would create a Premium Commission to evaluate the program's projected costs and recommend a financing plan. The plan would go before voters for approval before it could take effect.
Funds for the program likely would come from employee and employer contributions,Â the federal government and the state government. In addition, supporters say a single-payer system would generate additional savings by eliminating administrative costs (Contra Costa Times, 1/21).
A spokesperson for the governor said Schwarzenegger would veto Leno's proposal if it reaches his desk (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22).
Leno noted that even if a single-payer system wins approval from California's next governor, the state's insurance companies likely would mount a campaign to overturn the legislation with a ballot measure (New York Times, 1/22).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.