Universal Single Payer Bill Revived and New Ballot Initiative Proposed
From CAHU today via e-mail ...
Proponents for a Universal Single Payer system are now operating on two fronts: legislation and ballot initiative. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, after holding SB 562, the universal single payer bill, until January 2018, has just announced a series of hearings on universal single payer and healthcare delivery systems. On August 24, 2017, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D- Lakewood) stated the Legislature is forming an interim Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage. The Select Committee will be a committee of Assembly members. The committee will hold a number of hearings once the legislative session ends September 15 and will discuss plans for a universal health care system in California.
CAHU President, Stephanie Berger, has promised that CAHU will be at the hearings to testify and submit comments on the many problems a universal single payer (UHC) system poses for California.
"SB 562 has a limitless price tag and no guarantee of better health care for anyone. Californians want the legislature to focus on positive changes to reduce the actual cost of delivering health care and health insurance in a partnership of public and private efforts - not create a gigantic new government run bureaucracy," Berger said.
Rendon's statement reiterated the Legislature's dedication to single-payer systems. "The...fight to protect the Affordable Care Act helped galvanize the principle that health care is a basic right. There are several different approaches being proposed, including Medicare for all, single payer, hybrid systems and ACA expansion...I have called for these hearings to determine what approach best gets us there - what gets us to 'yes' when it comes to health care for all."
Senate Bill 562, sponsored by two nurse unions and carried by Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego,) proposes a "Healthy California" UHC system. The bill mandates a government-run monopoly on all health care services in California. It eliminates all private insurance, as well as Medicare, MediCal, Long Term Care and Covered California. The Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal analysis indicated SB 562, as currently written, would cost taxpayers approximately $400 billion per year, more than double the amount of the current $183 state billion budget. The bill also attempts to take all federal healthcare dollars, including ones earmarked for MediCare and other public health programs.
Rendon, in his announcement of the Select Committee, said, "The committee's work will help fill the void of due diligence that should have been done on SB 562 or any universal health care bill that so profoundly affects so many Californians."
The Select Committee will be chaired by Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and Dr. Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). Assembly Members Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), and Republicans Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) will also serve on the committee.
CAHU has communicated agent concerns regarding a universal health care system to the legislature throughout this year's legislative session. CAHU has noted for the record that in government-run health care systems, there is never enough money to provide timely care and the latest technology. Also that all Californians will lose their current health plans, to be replaced by government run health care, with benefits yet to be determined, to be serviced by a government-run entity populated with political appointees yet to be identified, to include provisions yet to be named, at a minimum cost of $400 billion.
Look for upcoming updates that will contain information about the interim hearings on UHC, Calls to Action, and Adopt a Leg.
New Ballot Initiative Filed
On August 18, 2017, a group named Enact Universal Healthcare for CA, Inc. filed for title and summary for a new proposed ballot initiative to amend California's Constitution, called the California Healthcare Roadblock Removal Act.
The initiative proposes to "establish a healthcare trust fund independent of the [state] General Fund."
The key provisions of the proposed initiative state, "The purpose of the Healthy California Trust Fund is to fund, promote, support, and improve healthcare and healthcare-related goods, services, outcomes, and education. Funds in the Healthy California Trust Fund may not be disbursed or loaned for any other purpose."
The proposal goes on to provide, "The State of California may transfer funds in its possession, including federal funds, into the Healthy California Trust Fund. ...Notwithstanding any other section of this Constitution, investment income derived from the Healthy California Trust Fund, and revenue sources dedicated to the Healthy California Trust Fund, including any tax, surtax, or fee, shall not be considered part of the General Fund, nor shall they be counted in or affected by any appropriations limit, revenue limit; or spending formula."
While no economic analysis has been done yet, the initiative is an attempt for get voters to override current constitutional limits on use of state and federal funds for activities unrelated to the basis for which the tax dollars were remitted. It also seems to indicate that the proponents have no idea of how taxes work at the state or federal level. On their website, the proponents talk about the estimated $107 billion that SB 562 would have to collect in new gross receipts taxes from business and new sales taxes on residents as "two tiny taxes." For comparison purposes, California's entire state budget for 2017-2018 is $173 billion.
Once the State Attorney General Xavier Becerra has provided approval to circulate the proposed initiative, proponents will need to collect nearly 600,000 signatures within 180 days to qualify the California Healthcare Roadblock Removal Act for the November 2018 ballot.
Earlier this year, CAHU commissioned a statewide poll of registered voters in April 2017. The poll numbers indicated that 81 percent of Californians are satisfied with their healthcare coverage over the past three years, i.e. since the ACA took full effect.
Importantly, the same poll showed that a supermajority (66%) oppose a new law establishing universal single payer healthcare when informed of the Legislature's huge cost estimate associated with such a system.
No matter what, CAHU will be in the fray on this initiative if it qualifies. Look for updates on the initiative's efforts to qualify for the November 2018 General Election ballot.