Third Time’s the Charm for Single Payer?

The megaphones and what-do-we-want cheers were in full force earlier this week on the steps of the Capitol building. It was all to support passage of a single-payer system in California, which  twice already has been passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the governor.

Amanda Foran, an occupational therapist at the California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles who attended the rally, said national reform will help ease some of the problems of health care, but doesn’t get to the root of what she sees every day at work.

“As a clinician, I see patients come into the ER all the time because that’s the only way they can see a doctor. And of course, it’s the most expensive.”

Single-payer fixes health care in a basic and common-sense way, Foran said. Californians would pay into an insurance pool, which would fund health care for the entire population of the state.

“Nobody’s left out,” Foran said. “I’m protected, just like everyone else is protected. It’s a little like immunizations. Everyone is taken care of.”

During the previous legislative session, the single-payer idea, embodied in SB 810  by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) failed to make it through the Legislature. That follows two other sessions where the bill was successfully passed by the Legislature, only to be vetoed both times by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Given that path of political frustration, many thought the single-payer notion might lose steam — but Foran said that this year offers more hope than before. For one thing, the state has a Democratic governor who might be more receptive to the idea.

The straightforward nature of single-payer meshes perfectly with the restructuring and simplification of government systems being pushed by Governor Brown, Foran said.

“It fits in well with the notion of streamlining everything,” Foran said. “It would be a big change. But it makes the most sense.”

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