These California Lawmakers Want Universal Health Care for All, Including the Undocumented

February 17th 2017

While President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans pushing to repeal Obamacare, two California lawmakers are proposing a more expansive public health plan for the for the state's residents. 

State Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins on Friday introduced the Healthy California Act (SB 562) — a direct response to repeal efforts on the national level.

“'Healthy California' gives everyone insurance, because everyone has a right to health care," Lara said in a press release. "Trump and the Republicans don’t get to pick the health care winners and losers, and we’ll never get to 100 percent health care in California unless we lead.”

There aren't yet many details on the bill, but both senators said they will be discussing a single-payer option on the floor next week.

A press release from Lara's office offers some clues about where the lawmakers are going with their proposal:

  • "Every California resident has one plan and more choice. No more plan-switching or guesswork when insurance rates or plans change."
  • "By pooling health care funds in a publicly-run fund we get the bargaining power of the seventh largest economy."
  • "We cut out insurance company waste and duplication."
  • "No more out of control co-pays and high deductibles."

The Mercury News reported that the bill will also propose covering undocumented immigrants.

Reactions to the bill on Twitter were mostly positive.

Opponents of universal healthcare say that plans like this will cost taxpayers too much. But advocates say it would remove barriers to equal access to health care regardless of income. 

doctor-and-drugsStocksy/Per Swantesson - stocksy.com

Chuck Idelson, communications director of the California Nurses Association, a professional organization that supports the bill, told ATTN: that although the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, has flaws, the loss of the ACA could make the health care system worse. 

"Far too many people were left out and still have unpayable medical bills from inadequate cost controls within that law," he said. "But now we're looking at a situation where even that law may be dismantled by the far right who control Congress." 

Idelson said that the U.S. needs universal healthcare and California can be a model.

"This is a moment where we can try to enact meaningful healthcare reform in a way that actually does transform our health care system that is so critically needed in all of our communities," he said. 

bernie-sandersAP/Alan Diaz - apimages.com

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) has been a leading voice pushing for universal health care, a focal point of his 2016 presidential run. 

On Feb. 6, Sanders debated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.) on CNN, a staunch opponent of the ACA, on the future of President Barack Obama's healthcare law. Sanders acknowledged that the ACA has flaws, but he said lawmakers should improve it and push it toward a universal model rather than repeal it. Cruz argued that universal health care in other countries leads to long wait times, but Sanders responded that the U.S. is "rationing" health care more than any other country. 

"When you have 28 million people who have no health insurance, that's rationing. When you have people who can't afford to go to the doctor or can't afford to buy prescription drugs, one out of five Americans can't afford the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe. That's called rationing, except there's no rule on that. There's no law on that. It's just people don't have the money to buy what they need."

RELATED: Why Single-Payer Health Care Has Never Succeeded in the U.S.

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