One-size-fits-all healthcare advocates split on cleanup – Santa Cruz Sentinel

For many Californians, the proposal of a uniform payer state health care system remains wishful thinking, and chances are it will remain so, especially if leading proponents can’t agree on how to get it there.

Democratic leaders and advocates looking to transform the current complex health care system are divided over their approach. On one side is a coalition of health, labor and civil rights advocacy groups behind Senate Bill 770, which seeks a gradual path toward “uniform funding,” in which a statewide system would fund health care for all residents. This could be a single payer model or something similar. The bill would task a working group of experts and consumers to work out the next steps to achieve that goal and submit a report to the legislature by June next year.

SB 770 also requests that the Newsom administration consult the federal government, which would need to approve such a system in California, on the matter. The bill, authored by San Francisco Sen. Scott Wiener, is currently moving through the Legislature — last week it received the green light from the Assembly’s Health Committee and it will next move to a Finance Committee.

On the other hand, the California Nurses Union, a longtime driving force behind the single payer movement, opposes Wiener’s bill, arguing it could derail his own legislation, Assembly Bill 1690. Jose Democrat would introduce a single payer system called CalCare. The bill was presented earlier this year but will not come up for hearing until the next legislative session. The CalCare bill doesn’t include specifics at this time, but union leaders said they would use their earlier attempt at a unified payer, Assembly Bill 1400, as a starting point. AB 1400 died last year after its author Kalra chose not to bring it up in plenary due to lack of voices.

Last week, Kalra joined the nurses’ union in publicly speaking out against Wiener’s bill, calling it a “disturbance” to his ongoing efforts and those of the nurses.

Even in blue California, the single-payer policy was politically tricky, with opposition from the healthcare industry, including health insurers and some medical associations, but also from powerful business interests like the Chamber of Commerce, citing the tax hikes that would be needed to fund a system. Still, the status quo costs too much and leaves too many people behind, experts and health advocates say.

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