Sen. Ricardo Lara and the California Nurse’s Association wanted the California Legislature to implement a single-payer health care system. The cost estimate — $400 billion a year.
That’s an estimate. Some experts say that’s a low number considering Lara and the nurses said their system will take care of the health care of anyone — legal or illegal — in California.
The idea set off conservatives and ignited a war of words among the state’s Democrats. California’s Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon got the plan from the Senate and immediately shelved the thing. He called the bill a shell and cited a lack of a funding mechanism as the reason.
“There was really no there, there. It was a statement of principles, a list of values, a lot of values that I share, but it certainly wasn't a bill. There was absolutely no funding attached to a $400 billion proposal, no service delivery mechanism,” Rendon said.
Here’s the “but” you saw in the headline. The bill is technically not dead. California does two-year sessions and the measure could come back when the Legislature reconvenes in January of next year.
Part two of the “but” in the headlines is the California Nurses Association looking at gathering signatures to put it on this year’s November ballot.
Rendon’s decision has received criticism from the nurses association’s director of public policy Michael Lighty who says the Speaker is bowing to big industry groups that contribute to the political action committees supporting Democrats.
“It looked to us like the Speaker was carrying the water for the insurance industry and some Democrats who didn't want to take the vote. I think his intention is to kill it and he's pretending like it's not dead,” Lighty said.
Protests followed Rendon’s decision. So did a social media campaign. One unnamed and anonymous Senate Democrat told The Hill, “None of the bills are ever cooked fully when the bills go to the other side. Rendon just didn't want to deal with the difficulty of policy-making.”
Rendon disagrees and said, “If a real bill had come to me from the state Senate, I definitely would have looked at it.”
Some of opponents of his decision even issued death threats. That — as well as the campaign itself — hasn’t set well with political observers on the left and some newspaper columnists including liberal Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton.
He wrote “California badly needs political heroes, and we just got one: Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. He personally sent packing a so-called single-payer universal health care bill that was virtually all fluff with little substance. Then he was viciously attacked by the nurse’s union that pushed the bill, playing bully politics.”
The news that Rendon dumped the legislation also pleased California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) President Rick Coburn. He said the bill fails to address the real problems faced by those accessing medical care. That is the constant and upward cost of medical care, the growing cost of prescription drugs and a lack of enough quality medical providers to serve everyone.
In a statement, Coburn said, “CAHU remains committed to helping repair problems encountered by everyday Californians who are trying to obtain and pay for health care.”
Source link: MSN, Insurance Journal