With the future of health care in the United States uncertain, lawmakers in California have proposed a bill to revamp the system in the Golden State. Two Democratic senators, Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, planned Friday to introduce the Healthy California Act.
The bill was short on details regarding how it would be executed, according to local outlet Mercury News. But the plan's outline had all the typical earmarks of a single-payer system, a publicly financed fund with privately delivered care for California’s 38 million residents.
“In light of the threats to the Affordable Care Act, it’s important that we are looking at all options to continue to expand and maintain access to healthcare,” Atkins said in a statement. “The Healthy California Act is an essential part of that conversation.”
The bill, backed by the California Nurses Association, will head to the Senate Health Committee before moving on to the Senate Appropriations Committee. But critics of the plan say it would need serious tax increases in order to work, and multiple similar bills have failed to gain traction in California in the past. At least eight bills attempting to create a single-payer system proposed between 1992 and 2009 either failed to advance past the legislature or were eventually vetoed by Republican governors, according to San Francisco’s local SF Gate news.
But in 2006, California was the first state in the U.S. to have a single-payer bill advance past the legislature. It was eventually vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but some have reason to believe the current bill might be the one that cracks the opposition.
Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, told SF Gate the bill might see success this time. The current health care climate, a more involved political base and younger state legislators might give it a fighting chance, she said.
It’s still unclear what President Donald Trump will do to health care. In one of his first executive orders, he signed a measure allowing officials to begin rolling back the law, though it was still in effect Friday.
But Trump has actually praised single-payer health care in the past. After the first presidential debate, he extolled the virtues of such a plan to Fox News’ Bret Baier.
“As far as single-payer, it works in Canada, it certainly works well in Scotland,” he said.