California Announces Universal Healthcare For State Residents
A well-known initiative for a new universal healthcare bill in California is in the works. Proposals for a brand-new, single-payer system won in an 11 to 3 vote held by the state’s Assembly Health Committee recently. It’s a promising sign of change soon to come.
This plan has been in the works for quite some time now. It finally looks like this project is getting its feet off of the ground. When can Californians expect coverage?
California Might Be the First State to Offer Universal Healthcare
The bill in question, Assembly Bill 1400, the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, or AB-1400, introduces a brand-new service to all California residents: CalCare. This single-payer healthcare system has been in the works for nearly a year now; it’s finally seeing the light of day, and, unsurprisingly, the development has been incredibly controversial.
The state is one of the most active in the nation when it comes to healthcare reform in any capacity. Thanks to a diverse roster of passionate policymakers, many regard it as one of the most progressive states in the union.
Assemblymember Jim Wood, for example, expressed his disappointment in a healthcare system that he argues has failed Californians, and he’s not alone in this opinion.
What Is AB-1400 All About?
The California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act was written to provide “comprehensive, universal, single-payer health care coverage” for every California resident. It also outlines an accompanying healthcare cost control system designed to cushion the blow financially after the bill has been passed and set into motion officially.
The bill is inclusive and non-discriminatory by nature. Section 1 lists out many of the principal co-authors’ harshest criticism of California’s current healthcare system, as well as healthcare policy in the rest of the country:
- The rising cost of healthcare coverage, as well as the cost imposed on small businesses determined to offer employees health insurance benefits
- A lack of consumer choice when it comes to the quality of their healthcare and healthcare insurance
- The inadequacy of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
All eligible care and treatment will be made payable to CalCare. The program builds off of other national policies, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medi-Cal. It hopes to fill in any gaps in coverage between these different programs, preventing the neediest among us from slipping through the cracks.
The bill also calls for the formation of a CalCare executive board of nine influential members who specialize in healthcare from a legal standpoint to oversee the policy’s implementation, led in spirit by the Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services.
The eventual goal is to gather all of these services, standardize them, and unite them under the CalCare brand, culminating into a truly single-payer healthcare system. What is a single-payer health system by definition?
What Is a Single-Payer Healthcare System?
Its defining characteristics are its simplicity, its equity, and its ability to protect consumers from inflation and other oft-rising costs associated with healthcare. The single-payer in question plays a dual role: they both “collect” all healthcare fees imposed on the citizens that they represent and “pay” for them in kind.
It sounds silly to put it in these terms, but the political and economic theory behind the notion is sound. The responsibility is taken off of the backs of the common people; if you live in this country or state and you’re contributing to society, you’ve got a guaranteed place within the healthcare system, no ifs, ands, or buts.
The single-payer? This person is usually the one at the top of the food chain—our President if this policy was being considered at the federal level. In this case, a number of top-ranking officials in California may be considered to assume this position.
What Are the Benefits of a Universal Healthcare System?
One long-held belief in popular public opinion is the importance of legislative policy as it relates to the overall well-being of its constituents. Things like life expectancy are tied intimately to what’s made available to all citizens, not just those with the means to protect themselves.
The unfortunate truth is that a multi-payer healthcare system is often incomplete, disorganized, and leaves citizens more than deserving of coverage out in the cold completely. A single-payer system removes the barriers that prevent many demographics from accessing adequate insurance. The decision becomes one of morality—along this line of thinking, healthcare is now a Kantian obligation that all people are deserving of respect and dignity and an all-too-real economic investment on a nation’s most valuable asset, the people.
Healthcare reform doesn’t just protect patients, either. It also levels the playing field in terms of how much healthcare providers and health centers are paid when all has been said and done.
Our current national Medicaid policy offers a much lower eventual payoff for the hospitals and doctors that serve patients covered by it; they stand to make a lot more from those covered by commercial health insurance policies. This sends a dark message to those unable to afford premium health insurance on their own; often, the quality of their healthcare experience is impacted greatly by this label and the implications that it brings with it.
Clearly, something’s got to give, which is why so many are eager to see where AB-1400 takes us.
As contributing Assemblymember Ash Kalra so eloquently puts it, the California healthcare system has “far too much suffering embedded into it, particularly here in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation [in the entire world].” He argues that we should be exploiting this wealth for the good of everybody.
Is Universal Healthcare in California the Solution We Need?
One of the most contentious aspects of this new healthcare reform bill is, obviously, how much it’s going to cost, as well as who’s going to be footing the bill.
Many of these concerns have been addressed by the policymakers pushing for this desperately-needed upheaval of our current way of covering citizens. What’s in the cards for us?
We have no idea what’s going to happen next, but few will deny that this recent ruling is one huge step in a much more positive direction for Californians state-wide.