California Single Payer Law Stalled in Assembly

The California Senate passed SB 562, the law creating a state healthcare “single payer” system by a vote of 23-14. But the Speaker of the Assembly announced it will not be voted on in the Assembly because the state has to deal with the crisis in healthcare spending cuts created by Republican attempts to slash and burn the Affordable Care Act in Congress.

Senate Bill 562  is long and complex, but it boils down to something pretty simple.  It proposes,

1. First, that the state secure waivers from the federal government, so that the Feds would send all the money they spend on healthcare for Californians to the state—about $225 billion a year for Medicaid (MediCal), Medicare, CHIP, etc.),

2. Second, that the state raise taxes to cover what the Fed money does not, and

3. Third, that all this money go into a State Fund which would pay for healthcare for all Californians.

One estimate suggests this would cost a total of about $400 billion, so state taxes would have to cover about $175 billion, while another estimate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests it would cost about $331 billion, so state taxes would have to be raised to cover $106 billion.

But that’s all academic now – no bill will move forward this time around because California may be forced to deal with severe cuts in Federal funding for healthcare benefits like MediCal and Covered California if Congress manages to agree on a new national health care law.  But as the Assembly Speaker pointed out, the proponents of SB 562 intend to put a “single payer” initiative on the the California ballot for all Californians to vote on, most likely in 2018.

By Bill Sokol | June 27, 2017

Legal Developments