California universal healthcare proposal moving forward

Politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – State lawmakers moved forward with an effort to create a single-payer, universal health care system in California on Tuesday.

In an 11 to 3 vote, the Assembly Health Committee approved a bill aiming to make single-payer, universal health care a reality.

“I feel like the entire health care system has forgotten its oath and lost its way,” Assm. Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, said.

AB1400 establishes and sets the rules for cal care, a proposed single-payer health care program for California residents.

In a separate bill, lawmakers are hoping to ask voters to approve several tax increases to pay for it.

“Have a healthcare system that has far too much suffering embedded into it, particularly here in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation,” Assm. Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, said. 

After Tuesday’s three-hour hearing, AB1400 still faces many hurdles in a tight deadline because it was introduced last year it must pass through another committee and the entire assembly before the end of the month in order for it to stay alive this session.

Some Democrats and Republicans opposed the bill they say that has too many unknowns, including funding, how it will affect retirees and the medical workforce.

“I am deeply concerned about this, there is so many unanswered questions,” Assm. Heath Flora, R-Ripon, said. 

It faces opposition from some medical and business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce.

“It is not a time to experiment with a brand new, state-run bureaucracy funded by unsustainable taxes placed on employers trying to survive a pandemic,” Preston Young, CalChamber, said. 

Before he was elected, Governor Gavin Newsom campaigned on a push for single-payer health care. Newsom is proposing his own version of universal health care by expanding the state’s health insurance to all low-income Californians, regardless of immigration status.  

Here’s how he responded when he was asked if would support AB 1400:

“I have not had the opportunity to review that plan and no one has presented it to me.”

The bill heads to the appropriations committee.

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