California Democrats’ Single-Payer Healthcare Plan Passes the Health Committee

Written by Bobbie Wylie

On Tuesday, Assembly Bill 1400 – a bill aiming to restructure California’s healthcare system to guarantee medical coverage for every state resident – passed its first hurdle by moving through the Assembly Health Committee.

AB 1400, authored by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), plans to change California’s healthcare system to ensure that all residents in the state are given medical coverage, regardless of immigration status. Should AB 1400 pass, it would enact billions in new taxes to create a single-payer system. 

The cost of such a single-payer system is one of the proposals’ biggest obstacles. The bill proposes $163 billion in new taxes, which likely would not cover the cost of implementing such a massive healthcare system overhaul. Estimates from the UC Labor Center say the cost of creating a single-payer system may cost $222 billion per year. The exact cost of the proposal is unknown. 

Other criticisms of AB 1400 focus on how the proposed single-payer plan would work. The California Chamber of Commerce claims the proposal will hurt employment and the economy, adding AB 1400 to the Chamber of Commerce’s annual “job killer” list. A spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce said that Kalra’s legislation would “ruin quality healthcare delivery” and “create the largest tax increase in state history.” Preston Young of the California Chamber of Commerce stated, “This would significantly underfund a single-payer system, which means all of us would actually pay more taxes than currently proposed.” Assemblyman Heath Flora (R-Ripon) criticized the bill as hurting Californians already on government care, “People have spent their entire lives paying into a system and then we are going to rip the carpet out from under them for a program that’s not even funded”. 

Assemblyman Kalra has faced criticism from members of his own party, some stating that they support a single-payer system but are frustrated that Kalra has failed to consider changes to his bill since it was first introduced last year. “I passionately reject the argument that if one doesn’t believe this is the way to reform our broken health insurance and healthcare delivery systems that you support the status quo,” said Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters).

AB 1400’s success in the Assembly Health Committee comes amid Governor Newsom’s proposed healthcare expansion for immigrants living in the country illegally. Newsom’s proposal, released on Monday as part of his state budget proposal, would allow residents whose income falls below the federal poverty line to qualify for Medi-Cal, regardless of immigration status.

Photo Cred: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File