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Single Payer, Universal Health Care Bill Passes Key Assembly Committee

California Chronicle, 6/30/10

By California Political Desk
California Chronicle
June 30, 2010

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Health Committee today approved the California Universal Health Care Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). The bill guarantees all Californians comprehensive, universal health care while containing ballooning health care costs and improving the quality of care and delivery of health services statewide.

"Our state is being bankrupted by out-of-control health care costs, and small businesses and families are struggling to pay premiums that rise as much as 40% every year," said Senator Leno. "California´s single payer plan remains the gold standard for health care reform, and is the only proposal that will truly contain health care spending and provide universal coverage for all."

The California Universal Health Care Act creates a private-public partnership to provide every California resident medical, dental, vision, hospitalization and prescription drug benefits and allows patients to choose their own doctors and hospitals. This "Medicare for All" type of program works by pooling together the money that government, employers and individuals already spend on health care and putting it to better use by cutting out the for-profit middle man.

California currently spends $200 billion annually on a fragmented, inefficient health care system that wastes 30% of every dollar on administration. With Senate Bill 810, that wasteful spending is eliminated. The bill creates no new spending, and in fact, studies show that the state would save $8 billion in the first year under this single-payer health care plan.

"All other industrialized nations spend far less on health care than we do, and in return their residents receive higher quality care," said Senator Leno. "California families and employers can no longer afford to foolishly waste 30 cents of every dollar on a health care system that focuses on minimizing claims and increasing profits instead of maximizing the health of the people."

SB 810 is sponsored and supported by a broad coalition of patients, nurses, doctors, teachers and school employees, small businesses, faith community members, retirees, local governments and school districts. These groups represent more than 2 million Californians. The bill is also sponsored by the California Nurses Association, California School Employees Association, Health Care for All California, California Physicians Alliance, California Teachers Association, California Council of Churches, League of Women Voters, California Health Professional Student Alliance, California Consumer Federation, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Single Payer Now and Progressive Democrats of America.

"California has the chance to lead the charge toward true healthcare reform that provides coverage to all," said Allan Clark, California School Employees Association President. "SB 810 will go even further than federal reform to guarantee medical care to every Californian. That's the kind of change we need."

"Now, more than ever, we need to improve the delivery of our health services so we can guarantee care for every patient, and do so in a humane and targeted manner," said Geri Jenkins, co-president of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee. "The only way to achieve that for our state is through passage of SB 810, which will make sure that our patient care dollars are actually spent on patients—instead of on insurance company executives and their outsized bonuses."

The California Universal Health Care Act is nearly identical to legislation (SB 840) introduced in 2007 by former Senator Sheila Kuehl. The California Legislature passed SB 840 in 2008, but it was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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