California lawmakers debate universal healthcare proposal

Frustrated by partisan deadlocks in Washington, California’s predominantly Democratic legislature will begin debating on Tuesday whether to create its own universal health care system – a move that will test how far progressive politicians in the state are willing to go. Keep their campaign promises. Government-funded health care for all has been at the heart of California political rhetoric for decades. Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to do so when he ran for governor in 2018, and voters elected him in a landslide. But that hasn’t been easily accomplished in the country’s most populous state, where nearly half of the people pay for work health insurance. In 1994, voters overwhelmingly rejected a voting initiative that would have created a universal health care system. Another attempt was passed by the state Senate in 2017, but it never got a vote in the state assembly. This year, the Democrats in the State Assembly are trying again with a new strategy. First, they want to pass a bill that creates a universal health care system and sets the rules. Then they want to ask voters to approve a big tax hike to pay off all of it. The plan, which would require voter approval, would raise taxes for businesses and individuals who earn at least $ 149,509 a year. The California Taxpayers Association, which opposes the plan, estimates it would raise taxes by about $ 163 billion per year. “If we can agree on a policy and get it passed, then it becomes more real. Then you tell voters what they are voting for. It’s really important, ”said Assembly Member Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San José who made the proposal. Questions about how to pay for a universal health care system have doomed previous plans. California’s 1994 proposal was also based on a tax on employers and individuals, and it failed after strong opposition from the insurance industry. Insurers, doctors and business groups are once again lining up to oppose the latest proposal, arguing it would cost too much and limit people’s choices. It expanded the state’s Medicaid program to cover low-income people 26 and under and 50 and over, regardless of their immigration status. Total cost of $ 2.7 billion per year. Newsom reiterated his support for a universal health care system on Monday, but declined to say whether he supported the plan in the legislature because he said he had not read it. When asked if he had “given up” on a universal health care system in California, Newsom said that a commission he founded was examining such a system and how much it would cost. He also said he was working with President Joe Biden’s administration on the “flexibility” needed for California to implement such a system. manifest the ideal. It’s hard work, “he said.” It’s one thing to say. It’s another thing to do. And, with respect, there are many different ways to reach the goal. “On Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee is due to debate the bill that would create the universal health care system. They should not be debating the bill that would pay for it. But opponents of the plan will likely still highlight the cost. “At the health committee, I look forward to a solid discussion of the impacts of socialized medicine in California, including: how much tax will go up on the classroom. average, ”Republican Assembly Leader Marie Waldron said.

Frustrated by partisan deadlocks in Washington, California’s predominantly Democratic legislature will begin debating on Tuesday whether to create its own universal health care system – a move that will test how far progressive politicians in the state are willing to go. keep their campaign promises.

Government-funded healthcare for all has been a staple of California political rhetoric for decades. Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to do so when he ran for governor in 2018, and voters elected him in a landslide.

But it hasn’t been easy to accomplish in the country’s most populous state, where nearly half of the people pay for private health insurance through their jobs. In 1994, voters overwhelmingly rejected a voting initiative that would have created a universal health care system. Another attempt was passed by the state Senate in 2017, but it never got a vote in the state assembly.

This year, the Democrats in the National Assembly are trying again with a new strategy. First, they want to pass a bill that creates a universal health care system and sets the rules. Then they want to ask voters to approve a big tax hike to pay off all of it.

The plan, which would require voter approval, would raise taxes for businesses and individuals who earn at least $ 149,509 a year. The California Taxpayers Association, which opposes the plan, estimates it would raise taxes by about $ 163 billion per year.

“If we can agree on a policy and get it passed, then it becomes more real. Then you tell voters what they are voting for. It’s really important, ”said Assembly Member Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San José who made the proposal.

Questions about how to pay for a universal health care system have doomed previous plans. In 2011, Vermont adopted the nation’s first universal healthcare system. But state officials abandoned him three years later because they said they couldn’t afford to pay him.

California’s 1994 proposal was also based on a tax on employers and individuals, and it failed after strong opposition from the insurance industry. Insurers, doctors and business groups are once again lining up to oppose the latest proposal, arguing it would cost too much and limit people’s choices.

During his first three years in office, Newsom focused more on ensuring that everyone in California has health insurance. It expanded the state’s Medicaid program to cover low-income people 26 and under and 50 and over, regardless of their immigration status. On Monday, he offered to cover everyone at a potential cost of $ 2.7 billion per year.

Newsom reiterated his support for a universal health care system on Monday, but declined to say whether he supported the plan in the legislature because he said he had not read it. When asked if he had “given up” on a universal health care system in California, Newsom said that a commission he founded was examining such a system and how much it would cost.

He also said he was working with President Joe Biden’s administration on the “flexibility” needed for California to implement such a system.

“The difference here is when you are in a position of responsibility, you have to apply, you have to demonstrate the ideal. It’s hard work, “he said.” It’s one thing to say. It’s another thing to do. And, with respect, there are many different ways to reach the goal. “

On Tuesday, the Assembly’s health committee is due to debate the bill that would create the universal health system. They are not expected to debate the bill that would pay for it. But opponents of the plan will likely further stress the cost.

“In the Health Committee, I look forward to a solid discussion of the impacts of socialized medicine in California, including: how many taxes will rise on the middle class,” said the Republican Assembly leader Marie Waldron.

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