Sen. Lara, Atkins Propose Bill Creating Single-Payer Healthcare System in California

Two state lawmakers introduced a senate bill today that would create a single-payer healthcare system in California, reaching further to cover those still uninsured despite the implementation of Covered California and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (also known as “Obamacare”), which is under threat by the federal government.

The Californians for a Healthy California Act, known as SB 562, was introduced by state Senators Toni G. Atkins of San Diego, and Ricardo Lara, whose district covers most of Long Beach. The California Nurses Association is a sponsor of the bill. 

Today marks the last day for bills to be introduced to the state Senate.

“Access to affordable and quality health care is not only critical, it should be a right for everyone in California,” Atkins said in a statement. “In light of threats to the Affordable Care Act, it’s important that we look at all options to maintain and expand access to health care. The Healthy California Act is an essential part of that conversation.” 

The two elected officials said that while the number of uninsured in the state is at a historic low under the ACA and Covered California and rising healthcare costs have been slowed, lack of insurance still affects immigrant communities, rural California, working families and young people. 

“Healthy California gives everyone insurance, because everyone has a right to healthcare,” Lara said in a statement. “Trump and the Republicans don’t get to pick the healthcare winners and losers, and we’ll never get to 100 percent health care in California unless we lead.” 

This is not the first time Lara has proposed healthcare legislation for the marginalized. Last year Gov. Jerry Brown signed Lara’s Senate Bill 4, Health4All Kids Act, and the 2017-18 budget proposal includes $279.5 million to cover 185,000 children regardless of their immigration status, according to a release from Lara’s office. 

Lara noted that despite President Donald Trump’s and congressional Republicans’ pledges to repeal the ACA, they have not proposed a plan to replace it. Lara added that Trump’s executive order on repealing the ACA states that the federal government should “provide greater flexibility to states and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs.”

Check out some of the features of the Californians for a Healthy California Act: 

  • Every California resident has one plan and more choice. No more plan-switching or guesswork when insurance rates or plans change.
  • You pick your doctor, not health insurers.
  • Clinicians make decisions about care, not computers.
  • By pooling health care funds in a publicly-run fund we get the bargaining power of the seventh largest economy.
  • We cut out insurance company waste and duplication.
  • No more out of control co-pays and high deductibles.
  • Public oversight on costs and care, not decisions made in secret.
  • Managing prescription drug costs.

Lara and Atkins plan to talk details in the coming weeks with Californians. 

“We need to have this conversation now while hundreds of thousands of people are speaking out in support of healthcare,” Lara said in a statement. “With Republicans on the brink of rolling back health care it’s time for California to lead. I look forward to bringing a bill that Californians can support and the governor will sign.”

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