As much of the country waits to see what will happen to the Affordable Care Act, two lawmakers in California decided to wage a preemptive strike by introducing SB 562 which would “establish a comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage program and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state.”
The bill, which is being referred to as “The Healthy California Act,” was introduced on February 17th by Senator Ricardo Lara (D - Bell Gardens) and Senator Toni Atkins (D - San Diego). If passed, it would establish the first single-payer system in the country. Colorado recently had a ballot initiative to establish universal healthcare, which did not pass, and Vermont had attempted to establish a single-payer system, but it eventually failed.
This healthcare plan would be truly universal, as it would not only cover all 38 million California residents, but it would also cover all undocumented people living in the state. It would build on a bill Senator Lara introduced, signed into law in 2015, which provided healthcare for all undocumented people under the age of 18.
Governor Jerry Brown has not yet weighed in on the bill, but he has been a supporter of single-payer systems in the past. The bill has the support of the California Nurses Union, and with the attention former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, has brought to the fight for universal healthcare, it will be very interesting to see if the largest state in the union could also be the most widely insured.