Lawmakers refused to vote on a high-profile effort to reform California’s health care system on Monday, ending a proposal that would have guaranteed medical coverage for every resident through billions of dollars in new taxes.
Assembly Bill 1400 introduced by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (Democrat from San Jose) did not have the votes needed to move forward before Monday’s main deadline. Rather than force a vote that would be politically harmful to some of his fellow Democrats, Calra chose to let the bill die, much to the chagrin of California nurses. That defended a single payer for years.
“Despite strong opposition and substantial misinformation from those who benefit from our current healthcare system, we have been able to launch a realistic and achievable path toward a single payer and bring the AB 1400 to the floor of the association,” Clara said in a statement. . “However, it became clear that we did not have the votes needed to pass and I decided the best course of action was not to put the AB 1400 to a vote today.”
AB 1400 was to create a publicly funded health care system called CalCare, which could cost between $314 billion and $391 billion in state and federal money, according to a legislative analysis. But proponents said residents in the state would have ultimately saved money when compared to paying for insurance, co-pays and deductibles.
“California’s elected leaders had the opportunity to put patients first and set an example for the entire country by passing the AB 1400,” the California Nures Assn. He said in a statement. “Instead, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, the bill’s lead author, chose not to vote on this bill at all, providing cover for those who would have had to go to records about their position on the guaranteed health care of all people in California.”
It’s the second time in the past five years that a single payer bill has died in the Assembly. In 2017, Assembly President Anthony Rendon (Democrat of Lakewood) blocked a Senate bill to create a single-payer plan, which described the proposal as “painfully incomplete.” Rendon’s decision at the time infuriated the nurses’ union, which said the failure to put it to a vote was A cowardly act.
On Monday, Rendon said the lack of votes for the AB 1,400 shows how difficult it is to implement single-payer health care in the state.
“However, I am deeply disappointed that the author did not bring this bill to a vote today,” Rendon said in a statement. “I support one motive and intend to vote yes on this bill. Over time, we will have better and more successful legislation to bring us closer to this goal.”
Supporters of the bill said the COVID-19 pandemic has decisively made clear the importance of access to health care. recent poll By California Healthcare and NORC at the University of Chicago found 83% of Californians say it is very or “extremely important” for Newsom and lawmakers to focus on “making health care affordable” this year.
However, Calra’s bill has faced massive controversies since its introduction last February. For about a year, AB 1400 failed to gain traction while lacking details on how to fund it. This year, Kalra introduced a second bill, the Assembly’s Constitutional Amendment 11, which would have used $163 billion in proposed new taxes to advance a single payer plan under AB 1400.
This helped the bill win support this month in Parliament’s Health and Appropriations Committees. Lawmakers faced intense pressure on both sides of the bill ahead of Monday’s critical vote. The California Democratic Progressive Caucus threatened to withhold endorsement from any assembly member who did not vote for the AB 1400.
Critics of the single-payer plan have been flooding California’s cellphones and social media with ads critical of the bill, saying it would “cause a massive disruption to California health care at the worst possible time” and urging people to contact lawmakers to tell them to reject the AB 1400.
Opponents say that even with its hefty price tag, the proposal would still be unable to pay for health care reform. Exactly how much the proposal would cost if it eventually became law is still unknown. The House recently approved a Republican request for the Office of the Impartial Legislative Analyst to review the cost and impact of the legislation.
The California Chamber of Commerce has added the proposal to its annual “job killer” list that highlights laws that corporate interests say will harm employment and the economy. A Chamber spokesperson said the legislation would “correct the delivery of quality health care” and “create the largest tax increase in state history.”
“The AB 1400 was a disaster in the making and an unnecessary distraction from the real work of creating a health care system that could provide affordable, high-quality care to all Californians,” said Jim Wonderman, President and CEO of Bay Area Council. “It was not practical and would have cost California taxpayers and corporations hundreds of billions in new taxes, with little or no hope that it would produce any results at all.”
Assembly Republican leader Marie Waldron of Escondido praised Democrats who helped stop the “reckless plan”.
“Better late than never,” Waldron said. “The fact that the government’s takeover of our entire state health care system has so far been proposed to show just how out of touch the Democratic Party is with the daily needs of Californians.”
A single motive proposal has largely overshadowed a budget proposal by Governor Gavin Newsom to allow all income-eligible residents to qualify for the state’s health care program for low-income people regardless of immigration status.
California already allows children and youth who live in the state illegally to qualify for Medi-Cal California 50 and above will be eligible as of May 1. The Newsom plan will add the final age group, which includes Estimated about 700,000 people who meet the income requirements but cannot receive Medi-Cal due to their immigration status.
Newsom, who campaigned four years ago on implementing single-payer health care, said he remains committed to the goal, but hasn’t impacted Calra’s bill while he was pushing for his Medi-Cal expansion.
The governor said he is waiting for a report from the California Health for All Commission detailing a plan on how best to create a single payer model in the state.
“The facts on our part are that a single payer system will save money and lives — and people are on our side and that meaningful health care reform is sorely needed,” Kalra said. “Especially with four Democratic positions vacant in the assembly, the votes weren’t there today, but we won’t give up.”