Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Should State Provide Health Care to Everyone?
By admin
Published 2 years ago on
January 10, 2022

Share

 

On paper, having one state agency as the exclusive purveyor of health care for 40 million Californians would seem to make sense, replacing dozens of federal, state and private systems and their often bewildering financial and managerial peculiarities.

Centralized health care seems to work fairly well in other developed countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, with per capita costs somewhat lower than those in the United States.

Previous Effort Failed

The notion has been kicking around in California political circles for years and at one point, the state Senate passed a single-payer bill, although it stalled in the Assembly for lack of a financing mechanism.

Dan Walters

CalMatters

Opinion

The idea resurfaced last week with the introduction of two measures. One to create the framework for such a system in California, the other to ask voters to levy tens of billions of dollars in new taxes, mostly on affluent taxpayers and businesses, to pay for it.

“There are countless studies that tell us a single-payer healthcare system is the fiscally sound thing to do, the smarter healthcare policy to follow, and a moral imperative if we care about human life,” the proposal’s chief author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, said.

“What we’re trying to do is get rid of these dozens of buckets of funding — whether it’s private insurance, whether it’s employer, whether it’s Medi-Cal — put it into one bucket,” the San Jose Democrat added.

New Plan has Backing from Newsom

Kalra has obtained support from a fairly large group of his legislative colleagues and apparently has conceptual backing from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who pledged to work for a single-payer system during his 2018 campaign.

“Doing nothing is not inaction,” Kalra said of promises not kept. “It is, in fact, the cruelest of actions while millions suffer under our watch.”

The constitutional amendment needing voter support would impose a new excise tax on businesses equal to 2.3% of any annual gross receipts in excess of $2 million, plus a payroll tax of 1.25% of total annual wages on employers with 50 or more workers, another payroll tax on employers tied to workers earning more than $49,900 a year, and graduated increases in personal income taxes on affluent taxpayers.

Estimates of revenues from the new taxes vary but would, it’s assumed, top $150 billion a year. Sponsors say the taxes would be offset by eliminating what employers and individuals now pay out of pocket for health care.

Stiff Opposition Expected

Even with overwhelming Democratic majorities in both legislative houses, it may be difficult to advance the two companion measures, since they will face very stiff opposition from private employer groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce and much, if not most, of the current health care industry.

There are, moreover, some serious practical hurdles. The federal government now pays about half of the state’s medical care tab, which approaches a half-trillion dollars a year, through Medicare, Medi-Cal, Obamacare and systems serving federal employees, and civil service and military retirees. The proposal assumes that the feds would, in effect, turn over all of that money, well over $200 billion a year, to the state.

It also assumes that unions, including those of government workers, would also be willing to throw their health care money into the pot, meaning their often lavish benefits would be equalized with the rest of the state’s residents.

The biggest hurdle, however, may be convincing Californians that a state government riddled with managerial messes such as the Employment Development Department, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the bullet train project and countless failed technology initiatives should be trusted with something as important as medical care.

About the Author

Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times. For more columns by Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

DON'T MISS

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

DON'T MISS

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

DON'T MISS

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

UP NEXT

While California Politicians Skirmish Over Housing, the Shortage Keeps Growing

UP NEXT

As PG&E Bills Skyrocket, Will California Lawmakers Hold Anyone Accountable?

UP NEXT

Trustees Owe a Nationwide Superintendent Search to Fresno’s Children

UP NEXT

Taxes Are on the November Ballot in Monumental CA Showdown

UP NEXT

California Progressives Forced to Play Defense as State Faces Huge Budget Deficits

UP NEXT

CA Labor Priorities and Business ‘Job Killers’ on a Collision Course

UP NEXT

California Water Wars Continue Despite Now Healthy H20 Supply

UP NEXT

How the Saga of California’s Contentious Income-Based Utility Charge Began

UP NEXT

Fresno County Lawsuit Against Political Candidates Stifles Free Speech, Wastes Taxpayers’ Money

UP NEXT

Californians Pay High Gas Prices and Gas Taxes Yet Still Have Bad Highways

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

10 hours ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

21 hours ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

22 hours ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

24 hours ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

1 day ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

1 day ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

1 day ago

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

1 day ago

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

1 day ago

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Land Before Time Litter’s Journey

1 day ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

When Sacramento changed its plan to demolish a homeless encampment on a vacant lot on Colfax Street, instead offering the homeless occupants...

8 hours ago

8 hours ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

9 hours ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

10 hours ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

10 hours ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

21 hours ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

22 hours ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

24 hours ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

1 day ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend