In summary

Single-payer healthcare is once again up for debate in Sacramento, as two state senators push a bill to establish a plan before the federal government repeals the Affordable Care Act. Supporters say this bill may have a better chance given the anxiety created by the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle Obamacare, insisting “we’ll never get 100 percent health care in California unless we lead.”

Single-payer healthcare is once again up for debate in Sacramento, as two state senators push a bill to establish a plan before the federal government repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Los Angeles Sen. Ricardo Lara and San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins, both Democrats, have introduced SB 562, a very basic bill for universal health care that would require a simple majority to pass. Although more details will be filled in as the so-called Healthy California Act wends its way through the Legislature, Lara’s office said it would pool health care funds into a publicly-run fund.

Today hundreds of supporters joined a Sacramento rally organized by the California Nurses Association. They hope the bill’s sponsors are correctly calculating that  this bill may have a better chance of succeeding, given the anxiety created by the Trump administration’s pursuit of a “repeal and replace” strategy to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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

It’s not the first time such a bill has been introduced in California. In 2006, when one of those efforts cleared the Legislature and landed on the desk of then- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he vetoed it—declaring “socialized medicine is not the solution to our state’s health care problems.”

Critics of universal coverage say it’s very costly and comes with a large tax increase. Other state have tried to pass similar laws, including Colorado, and failed. Vermont became the first state to attempt a single-payer system, but it tabled the plan after its Democratic governor released a report showing the program’s cost would nearly double the size of the state’s budget in the first year, and require big tax hikes.

It’s unclear yet what the newest single-payer proposal would cost California. The sponsors say it will be intended for everyone, regardless of immigration status—including those who are uninsured and those who get health insurance through their employers. It’s also not yet clear whether Gov. Brown, who has a mixed record of support for universal health care, would sign the bill.

In Washington D.C., GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans will reveal their repeal and replacement plan after Presidents’ Day. That plan will aim to create a more competitive marketplace and provide tax credits to consumers to replace government subsidies.

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Elizabeth Aguilera

Elizabeth Aguilera is an award-winning multimedia journalist who covers health and social services for CalMatters. She joined CalMatters in 2016 from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she...