$400 billion price tag for California single-payer bill

May 24, 2017, 04:13
$400 billion price tag for California single-payer bill

Legislative analysts said federal, state and local taxpayer funding of about $200 billion a year for existing programs could be available to offset the overall tab of $400 billion for universal coverage.

Even in the state that spends the most money each year, the $200 billion increase is asking for a lot.

To put that in perspective, about $367 billion was spent on health care a year ago statewide, including public and private spending by employers and consumers, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The major test for any effort to create a single-payer health care system is how to pay for it. California now knows the math it's contending with. Just last week, we reported on a similar single-payer proposal in New York State, which would require doubling (and possibly quadrupling, depending on which projection you believe) the state's tax burden.

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A plan to create a single-payer healthcare system that is now under consideration in the California Legislature would cost $400 billion annually to implement, according to a legislative analysis released by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

California Democrats have long hoped for single-payer health care, in which the government pays for everyone's health care expenditures.

State Sen. Bill Monning, who represents San Luis Obispo County, cast one of the votes in favor of the single-payer bill. Moreover, even if Brown signed the bill into law, a Republican-led Congress would have no reason, or interest, in making sure the federal government cooperated in the program. On Monday, state lawmakers in Sacramento got their first look at the price tag for the proposal, which rings in at a whopping $400 billion annually.

Two-thirds of the Assembly and Senate must approve the tax increases required to fund it.

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The rest would come from higher taxes on businesses, residents or both.

Single-payer advocates learned that lesson previous year in Colorado at the ballot box, as the state turned blue for Hillary Clinton even as 79 percent of voters said "no" to single-payer health care.

The bill's main sponsor, the California Nurses Association, which organized rallies at last week's state Democratic convention in support of single payer, disputes the 15 percent figure.

One of the chief obstacles to the legislation, Senate Bill 562, is the prospect of higher taxes.

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