California’s Single-Payer Healthcare Insurance Proposal (Senate Bill 562)

When writing about a piece of legislation, it often helps to actually read the legislation rather than people’s opinions about it.  Well, I just read Senate Bill 562, the proposed Healthy California Act, and it’s not difficult to read.

What Would Senate Bill 562 Actually Do?

Senate Bill 562 provides a well-defined process for developing a Single-Payer Healthcare Insurance System for California.  Named “Healthy California,” the proposed Single-Payer Healthcare Insurance system is sometimes described as a State-run Medicare-for-All program.  SB-562 defines the healthcare benefits along with a comprehensive list of requirements that are intended to ensure an incorruptible system that guarantees healthcare coverage for everyone in California.  SB-562 specifies that healthcare insurance will be provided to all residents of the State, without direct cost to them, and the healthcare insurance will be provided in a way that minimizes disruption to existing healthcare delivery.

Under the terms of SB-562, the method of funding is left to the Legislature, presumably after the cost of the proposed Single-Payer system is determined.  SB-562 specifically states that it cannot go into effect until funding is actually secured.  So, any belief that the State will go bankrupt is nonsense, since a healthcare insurance system having that effect would never be put into operation.

The University of Massachusetts Funding Study

Previously, in Irvine Community News & Views (ICNV), I described the funding plan for a Single-Payer system proposed by a study group out of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that replaces the healthcare insurance premiums currently paid by employees, companies and individuals.  The burden of healthcare insurance premiums would be replaced by new taxes that include certain exemptions so that no one — except the very wealthy — would pay any more for their health insurance than they pay now.

The Prospects for Passage of SB-562

It is true that SB-562 is not fully fleshed out.  But, it doesn’t have to be.  The bill creates a process for developing a Single-Payer system, and we should participate in this process.  For example, the first thing the bill requires is to establish an independent Healthy California Board that will have full responsibility for creating the Single-Payer system under the guidelines laid out.

The mechanism for establishing the Board, itself, may be politically difficult; but, the worst that can happen is that the Healthy California Act is never implemented, and the only “loss” would be the time and relatively small costs to develop the system, not the billions of dollars some claim.  Presuming that the Board does devise a working system, it would still have to be put into the form of comprehensive legislation and passed by the Legislature.

So, what are the prospects for SB-562’s passage?  Right now, the bill is on hold, and cannot and will not move forward until after the election of a new Governor in November, and the convening of a new Legislature in January.  In 2019, more people will be talking about Healthy California.  As most expect, SB-562, or something similar, will be re-introduced when the new Legislature convenes.

If you’re interested in reading about Healthy California, visit: NationalNursesUnited.org/medicare-for-all, and be a part of the debate.

Meanwhile, ICNV’s Irvine Community Poll on readers’ views about Single-Payer Healthcare Insurance remains open.  The results, to date, are shown in the inset, below.

Everyone deserves good healthcare. As a Medicare recipient, I know I get good care and others should too.
—  Merrilee Gardner

 That would be the worst mistake. This country is getting flooded by immigrants that never paid into the system. Why would I want to pay for a zillion people and stand in lines?
—  Sam Petroda

 It will improve the lives of all Americans. People opposed Medicare for seniors, and it’s proven to be a life saver.
—  Susan Belson

 We are in crisis with over 3,000 preventable deaths in California per year, and medical costs being the #1 cause of personal bankruptcies. The sooner we make the transition to Single-Payer Health Care Insurance the more lives and money will be saved.
—  Dr. Bill Honigman

 I’d rather have hot pokers shoved in my eye than single payer. Have you ever had medical treatment while in the armed services?
—  Jan Brueggemann

The Armed Services also provide the medical service delivery — not so with the Healthy California proposal where medical service providers would be the same as exists now.   Only the insurance is single-payer, like Medicare.   HL

Harvey H. Liss

Harvey H. Liss

Harvey H. Liss, a former Irvine Planning Commissioner, holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics and is a California Licensed Civil Engineer. Dr. Liss is a longtime resident of Woodbridge, the iconic Irvine village he helped design in the 1970s. He now reports for ICNV on environmental issues.
Harvey H. Liss