The Health California Act is ambitious, if not irresponsible in its approach. Still, I remain open to the debate and realistic progress toward a national universal coverage solution which considers a combination of private and public health coverage - something that does not place California at an unfair disadvantage for our economy, jobs, and taxes. And a system overhaul that ensures patient quality and access to care will not be compromised. And for clarification, when comparing other single-payer models, most other developed countries actually have hybrid models and not a pure single-payer model. I would argue the ACA is directionally better for California and deserves support and building upon what already works for a vast majority of the state.
California twice passed single-payer legislation, which was later vetoed by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The single-payer proposal in 2007 was estimated to have cost of $209 billion, which would have meant huge wage tax hikes for employees and employers. Another bill will be considered in 2017 (CA SB 562) but faces a similar outcome. The actual cost or financial plan for the current bill remains to be seen. The last time a fully-defined single-payer bill was scored in California, it showed that even after the massive payroll tax increases proposed, the funding for the law was still $40 billion short, which effectively ended debate on that bill. CA Gov. Jerry Brown expressed skepticism in the state’s ability to fund the current plan. California’s single-payer bill (SB 562) is set for hearing today (May 22, 2017), by the California State Senate Appropriations Committee.
“Rather than rushing to pass it before it’s complete, we should keep it here and finish the work,” said Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, who voted against the bill.Putting it more bluntly was Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who, despite supporting the concept of single-payer health care, refused to support the bill. “This is the Senate kicking the can down the road to the Assembly and asking the Assembly to fill in all of the blanks,” he said.
Economists and public finance experts point out that more realistic assumptions about rates of return put the state’s unfunded pension liabilities at nearly $1 trillion, or eight times the current general fund. That’s just the state’s unfunded pension liability. Unfunded retiree health benefits are another daunting challenge for California.