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article imageOp-Ed: California Democrats put universal health care bill on hold

By Ken Hanly     Jun 25, 2017 in Health
Sacramento - The California Senate recently passed a universal health care plan. However, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon has put the bill on hold indefinitely. The plan was sponsored bye the California Nurses Association.
Rendon complained that the $400 billion plan was woefully incomplete. Rendon said: “Even senators who voted for SB 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation. In light of this, I have decided SB 562 will remain in the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice.”
While the media talk about the cost of the program, supporters of the bill claim that Californians would actually save money because they would no longer be paying premiums or deductibles, also, insurance company profits and overhead would be eliminated even though taxes would increase. A study, commissioned by the nurses union claimed that California would save $37 billion annually on health care under the plan while covering 3 million who are now uninsured.
Naturally the nurses' union was angry about the development. Chuck Idelson as spokesperson for the group said: “Whose interest is he acting on behalf of if not the insurance industry and those who oppose having guaranteed health care. It’s really quite stunning.” However another bill supporter Laphonza Butler, president of the California Service Employees International Union said that the bill opened up a conversation as to how California should proceed given the federal attacks on the US health care system. She said that a lot of work needed to be done on the bill.
The co-sponsors of the bill in the Senate said: “We are disappointed that the robust debate about health care for all that started in the California Senate will not continue in the Assembly this year. This issue is not going away, and millions of Californians are counting on their elected leaders to protect the health of their families and communities.” Not surprisingly the Republican Senate leader agreed with Rendon that the bill was woefully inadequate.
The prestigious Los Angeles Times the winner of many prizes for investigative reporting was suitably dismissive of the bill: Senate passage of a single-payer healthcare bill, in which the state would pay all medical costs for Californians, was simply irresponsible. The Senate’s own analysis pegged the annual price tag at an astronomical $400 billion. How does the Legislature expect to finance a California-only single-payer system? The Senate dodged that question. It sent the Assembly a bill without a funding plan. The Democrats’ main goal, it seemed, was to appease the legislation’s primary advocate: the politically potent California Nurses Assn. Apparently the system that does away with premiums and insures everyone is in the interests of nurses only not patients. The paper doesn't appear to notice that the health insurance companies could be termed special interests opposing the bill. Nor does the paper look into the connections of Rendon who stopped the bill form going forward with special interests opposed to the bill, that is not the sort of investigative journalism the LA Times is interested in any more it would seem. A recent long article in the LA Magazine discusses problems with the LA TImes,.
In a blog entry by Scott Creighton with many useful links, he claims to expose some of the links of key players to special interests opposed to the bill within the Democratic Party. He claims the leader of the California Democratic National Committee is in effect a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry and also alleges: " At one time he took 100k bucks from Big Pharma to kill a bill that would have dramatically decreased the cost of prescription medicine for Californians." Creighton also accuses speaker Rendon of buying his way into his position and of receiving $36,000 from Big Pharma. Perhaps, not all these accusations are correct but one would think that they are worth investigating instead of simply supporting the special interests who profit in the present system as the LA Times does. The single-payer system could start in California without waiting for a federal universal care system. In Canada, the system started in the relatively poor and small in population province of Saskatchewan before being adopted by other provinces and the federal government eventually.
The present US system is far more expensive than that of countries with some form of universal system. World Bank 2014 data show the US spent 17.1 percent of its huge GDP on health care whereas the UK spent 9.1. Canada spent 10.4 percent and France with one of the highest ranked systems spent 11.5. None of the universal care systems came even close to US expenditures. A Commonwealth Fund study in 2014 ranked the US health care system last in a study of eleven health care systems. However, Californians must now wait apparently for some time yet to even discuss the single-payer bill again while at the federal level there is discussion as to how to replace the inadequate Obamacare system by something much worse.
UPDATE: Found another article in the LA Times that at least favors the universal plan by Robert Pollin.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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