Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Single Payer Bill Advances in California

Single-payer health insurance aka, socialized medicine, has no chance of being passed at the federal level as long as Repugnants are in charge of Congress.  But if you consider the Canadian experience, there is a glimmer of hope for those 'Mericans who now support a similar system in the US.  Canada's successful single payer system began in Saskatchewan province and evolved nationwide since 1962.  The Canadian birth had its associated pain; an unsuccessful three week doctor strike ensued passage of the provincial system. Now, California is leading the way to a US government provided health care system.  The state's Senate health committee voted last Wednesday to forward a proposal to eliminate private health insurance and replace it with a government funded system to the appropriations committee.  The bill is supported by the powerful California Nurses Association, but opposed by an equally powerful business lobby.  Support for a single payer system has been growing, especially since the Trump administration has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  So far those efforts have failed miserably, despite widespread dissatisfaction with its inability to control health care costs.

Once again, as it did when the legislative effort to pass "Obamacare" was underway in Congress, industry groups are pouring money into politicians' coffers to prevent passage of socialized medicine in California.  Twenty-four  California legislators who sit on the committees that will consider the bill have collectively received $819,000 in donations.  That includes $80,000 given to the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly health committees.  When Colorado considered Amendment 69 to provide a statewide health care system last year, Opponents raised more than $4 million, nearly five times what supporters brought in.

California Democratic Senators, Toni Atkins, who serves on the Senate health committee, and Ricardo Lara introduced the “Healthy California Act“ in February. The legislation would guarantee coverage to all California residents and implement a “comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system,” while ensuring that members “shall not be required to pay any premium, co-payment, co-insurance, deductible, and any other form of cost sharing for all covered benefits.”  A representative of the nurses union called the bill a model for the rest of the nation to follow.  Its not the first time a single payer bill has received serious consideration by the California legislature.  Former Governor 'Muscles' Schwarzenegger vetoed similar single payer plans in 2006 and 2008.  If you build it, they will come California.