Universal health care is doable for far less cost – but at a political price

When the Legislature reconvenes and the campaigns for governor heat up next year, Californians will be hearing a lot – and a lot of hot air – about universal health care.

Making California the first state to guarantee health care for every resident has become a touchstone issue – and a divisive one – for the state’s dominant Democrats.

The state Assembly will take up – or possibly ignore – a universal health care bill that the Senate passed this year.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon applied brakes to Senate Bill 562 in June, saying it “was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete and has “potentially fatal flaws…including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care (and) cost controls.”

That stance generated a torrent of personal invective from the measure’s advocates in the Democratic Party’s left – or Berniecrat – wing, driven by the California Nurses Association.

There’s a similar divide among the Democratic candidates for governor, with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom the most insistent advocate of expanding coverage.

Like Rendon, Newsom’s chief rivals, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Treasurer John Chiang, endorse universal health care in principle, but are leery about how it would be financed.

A Senate Appropriations Committee analysis pegs costs of universal coverage at $400 billion a year, but suggests that half could be covered by redirection of existing federal, state and local government health care spending.

It added that “about $200 billion in additional taxes would be needed to pay for the remainder,” but also noted that half or more of that burden could be offset by eliminating direct health care costs now borne by consumers and their employers…

Read full story at Sacramento Bee

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