Supporters, Opponents Face Off Over Single-Payer Health Care Bill in California

Debate is heating up over a bill (SB 810), by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), that would create a single-payer health care system in California, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports (Steinberg/DiMartino, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 5/22).

According to Leno, the bill would not conflict with the federal health reform law. He said that in 2017, the reform law allows states to apply for federal waivers, which California could use to help fund a single-payer system.

Support

Backers of the legislation say it would provide all state residents with comprehensive health insurance benefits through public-private partnerships. They also note that a single-payer system would:

Allow residents to choose their doctors and hospitals;
Decrease administrative expenses for health care providers;
Ensure that residents do not pay more than their current expenses for health coverage; and
Reduce the role of insurance companies.

Opposition

However, critics of the bill say it would eliminate jobs and lead to substantial tax increases.

Patrick Johnston, CEO of the California Association for Health Plans, said an analysis of an earlier version of SB 810 determined that the legislation would create a $45 billion state deficit three years after its implementation. He said, “There is not enough money in the system to provide services to everyone who shows up.”

Assembly member Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino Mountains) said, “It is impossible to offer coverage to every resident at a reasonable cost without engaging in rationing. SB 810 promises to destroy any semblance of consumer choice in health care left.”

Bill Status

The legislation passed the Senate Health Committee earlier this month and now is being considered by the Rules Committee (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 5/22).

Leno said SB 810 is a two-year bill, noting that supporters hope to have the legislation on the governor’s desk by the summer of 2012

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