Health

California set to vote on single-payer health

FILE - In this May 16, 2016, file photo, California state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, speaks at a rally at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. California lawmakers are considering an audacious proposal that would substantially remake the state's health care system by eliminating insurance companies and guaranteeing coverage for everyone. Lara, who wrote the bill with Democratic Sen. Toni Atkins of San Diego, says they're working on details.
FILE - In this May 16, 2016, file photo, California state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, speaks at a rally at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. California lawmakers are considering an audacious proposal that would substantially remake the state's health care system by eliminating insurance companies and guaranteeing coverage for everyone. Lara, who wrote the bill with Democratic Sen. Toni Atkins of San Diego, says they're working on details.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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As the Republicans in Congress work on a bill to replace Obamacare, California lawmakers are considering a radical move in the other direction.

The state senate is set to vote on a bill that would create a so-called "single payer" health care system for California.

The bill the senate will vote on this week would cut out insurance companies and put the state in charge of paying for all health care.

Supporters call it "Medicare for all." Detractors call it an "expensive distraction" from the national health care debate.

Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens co-authored the bill. He told a senate committee last week—it's an idea whose time has come.

“Given this picture of increasing cost, health care inefficiencies, and the uncertainty created in Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path," said Lara. 

Analysts say the state would have to raise about $200 billion a year to pay for the new system. That's as much as the entire state budget. Gov. Brown has raised strong objections to the bill's cost.

The bill includes an amendment that would block it from taking effect until a funding source for the program is in place.