State lawmakers move toward nation’s first universal health care system

State News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL/KGET) – State lawmakers Thursday moved forward with an effort to establish what could be the nation’s first universal health care system in California.

Some Democrats are determined to move ahead with two bills that would create a universal, single-payer health care system in California.

“The reality is our current system is insanity,” said Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose.

The first bill, Assembly Bill 1400, establishes the health care program and its rules, which could cost about $200 billion.

The other bill is called ACA 11, a constitutional amendment that was unveiled Thursday as a set of tax hikes to help provide the money. 

Those tax increases include an annual excise tax on businesses with an income of more than $2 million, a 1.25% payroll tax on employers with more than 50 employees, a 1% payroll tax on workers earning more than $49,000 a year, and a personal income tax for those making about $150,000 a year. 

If passed by the Legislature, voters would have the final say on tax increases.

“A single-payer health care system is the fiscally sound thing to do, the smarter healthcare policy to follow and a moral imperative if we care about human life,” Kalra said.

Republicans pounced on the proposal Thursday, with some saying they have concerns about how this would financially hit those struggling with the high cost of living and rising inflation in California.

“Voters have been very clear in recent ballot measures that enough is enough,” said Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin.

The effort also faces mounting opposition from several groups, including the California Medical and Hospital associations, insurance companies and business groups.

The coalition released a statement Thursday that said in part, “AB-1400 would immeasurably disrupt the health care that millions of Californians rely on every day, and at the worst possible time, as omicron surges to unprecedented levels and the pandemic shows no sign of slowing.”

Because it was first filed last year, AB 1400 must pass the Assembly by the end of January to have any chance of getting through the legislature this year.

A hearing is scheduled for the bill next week.

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