California Could Become First US State To Offer Universal Health Care To Residents | California

California plans to create the first government-funded universal health care system in the United States for residents of the state. The proposal, which lawmakers will start debating on Tuesday, would adopt a single-payer health care system that would replace the need for private insurance plans.

Lawmakers are debating two bills – one would create the universal health care system, another would present plans to fund it by raising taxes, especially for wealthy individuals and businesses. The sweeping reform of health care faces significant obstacles, including opposition from powerful lobbies for doctors and insurance companies. If the bills are approved by the legislature, voters are expected to ultimately approve the taxes to fund the new system in an amendment to the California constitution.

California has tried unsuccessfully to replace private health insurance with a publicly funded universal program for years. Voters rejected such a proposal in 1994, and state lawmakers failed to find a way to fund a single-payer health care system in 2017.

Attempts to create nationwide universal healthcare have failed to gain traction despite being promoted by prominent progressive lawmakers, including 2020 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. The state legislatures of Vermont and New York have also tried unsuccessfully to create universal health care plans.

“There are countless studies that tell us that a single-payer healthcare system is the fiscally sound thing to do, the smartest healthcare policy to follow, and a moral imperative if we care about human life,” California congressman Ash Kalra, author of The Proposal, said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, campaigned for the election in 2018 with a promise to help build a single-payer health care system, but is set to be re-elected this year without specifying whether universal health care is still a priority.

“I think the ideal system is a single payer system. I’ve been consistent with this for over a decade, ”he said at a press conference on Monday. But he said he had not “had the opportunity to review” the plan debated by lawmakers.

In the meantime, Newsom unveiled its own proposal on Monday to expand access to Medi-Cal, a state-run health program for low-income Californians, to extend eligibility to all residents. , regardless of their immigration status. Newsom’s plan proposes to spend $ 2.2 billion per year to expand Medi-Cal eligibility to all low-income residents, after years of phased inclusion first of undocumented children, then people elderly in the program.

The proposal, if approved by the California legislature, would extend health coverage to about 700,000 additional people. If it gets final approval this summer, it could go into effect by 2024.

Although inequalities in access to healthcare exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic have intensified calls for healthcare reform, efforts to institute a universal healthcare system, if not a public health option, are emerging. have historically faced relentless opposition from powerful private health lobbies.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which extended healthcare in the United States, created insurance market exchanges where people without employer-sponsored insurance could purchase coverage and grants to help Americans have to pay for insurance. The legislation dramatically expanded access to health care, but stopped before creating a government-run public health care option. Despite the reforms adopted by the ACA, medical bills remain the leading cause of debt for Americans.

If California adopted a universal health care system, the state would funnel state and federal dollars spent on health care into a single government-run program. Insurance industry and business groups are rallying against the proposal, which would be paid for by higher taxes mostly on wealthier individuals and businesses, but raise taxes for all but the less well-off Californians paid.

Supporters of the plan say that despite taxes, employers and individuals would pay less for health coverage overall. A state-run system would also include more benefits, at lower cost, by eliminating the need to recognize insurance company profits.

The California Nurses Association held protests over the weekend in support of the universal health care proposal. “As nurses, we have seen patients receive care that is delayed or refused because they cannot afford it,” said Cathy Kennedy, president of the California Nurses Association. “This for-profit health care system has cost lives, all so that a few medicare executives can line their pockets.”

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