Single-Payer Measure Advances


The Senate Appropriations Committee heard and passed SB 810 (Leno), the single-payer health care measure, this past week.

SB 810, also known as the “Medicare for all” bill, would set the framework for a universal healthcare system in California.  Specifically, the bill would establish the California Healthcare System (CHS), a single-payer health care system that would provide coverage for all 37 million Californians would be eligible.

Essentially, this bill would combine under one administration existing state-administered health care programs with the privately funded insurance industry, and the state's uninsured.  The CHS would, on a single-payer basis, negotiate with providers or set fees for health care services and would pay claims for those services.

This bill would prohibit the existence of a health care service plan contract or health insurance policy, except for the CHS, that would be sold in the state that provided for the same services as the system.  This would reduce the California health plan and insurance industry to either third-party administrators for the system or entities that would provide coverage for benefits not covered by the system.  It would be administered by the California Healthcare Agency under the control of a Healthcare Commissioner appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

SB 810 was initially placed on the Suspense File in the committee due to the high cost of implementation.   The committee’s analysis said the bill could cost the state general fund up to $250 billion annually, but the author argued that the costs will go down as the state eliminates private insurance companies as middlemen and negotiates prices directly with healthcare providers.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the California Universal Health Care Act by a 6-2 vote.  SB 810 will now go to the Senate Floor for consideration.