Cal­i­for­nia panel re­jects plan for gov­ern­ment-run state health care

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state -

SACRA­MENTO (AP) — State law­mak­ers study­ing im­prove­ments to Cal­i­for­nia’s health care sys­tem on Tues­day re­jected on a plan pop­u­lar with Demo­cratic ac­tivists to give every­one in the state gov­ern­ment-funded health care, say­ing a “sin­gle-payer” plan would need ex­ten­sive work to be­come vi­able.

The law­mak­ers in­stead re­leased a re­port rec­om­mend­ing a va­ri­ety of ways to lower health care costs and re­duce the ranks of the unin­sured. It said cre­at­ing gov­ern­ment-run health care would be a longterm en­deavor re­quir­ing new money and leg­isla­tive staff and that such a plan would likely re­quire ap­proval from Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers and Congress.

Sin­gle-payer health care has be­come a ral­ly­ing cry for many on the left, who have ad­vo­cated for law­mak­ers to quickly boot health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies from Cal­i­for­nia. Demo­cratic As­sem­bly Speaker An­thony Ren­don an­gered back­ers of such a plan last year when he shelved a sin­gle­payer bill, SB562, which he called woe­fully in­com­plete. It’s poised to be a flash­point in the race for gov­er­nor among the Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

The re­port was pre­pared by two Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia pro­fes­sors and a pri­vate con­sul­tant at the be­hest of an As­sem­bly com­mit­tee cre­ated last year by Ren­don un­der pres­sure from crit­ics af­ter he chided the sin­gle-payer bill for lack­ing a way to cover the $400 bil­lion cost.

In the short-term, the re­port sug­gests cre­at­ing a pub­licly run op­tion for low-in­come pa­tients on Medi-Cal, ex­tend­ing Medi-Cal to cover peo­ple liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally, fin­ing peo­ple who don’t have in­sur­ance cov­er­age and col­lect­ing all health claims in a data­base to im­prove trans­parency and co­or­di­na­tion.

“The re­port out­lines some op­tions for us to con­sider that will help in­crease ac­cess and af­ford­abil­ity,” As­sem­bly­man Joaquin Aram­bula, a Fresno Demo­crat who was the com­mit­tee’s co-chair­man, said in a state­ment. “This will al­low us to make some im­me­di­ate changes to ex­pand cov­er­age while we pur­sue long-term so­lu­tions.”

The re­port an­gered the Cal­i­for­nia Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion, which de­vel­oped SB562 and led protests of Ren­don at the Capi­tol. Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Bon­nie Castillo called the re­port a “pub­lic dis­ser­vice” and said the so­lu­tions it pro­poses “do noth­ing to ad­dress the cost cri­sis, other than pro­vide po­lit­i­cal cover to politi­cians en­ter­ing a po­lit­i­cal sea­son who want to avoid the real so­lu­tion, guar­an­teed health care for all, as pro­posed by SB 562.”

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