By Robert Stark
Single payer healthcare in California is kaput for now, as the failed Assembly Bill 1400, to implement “CalCare,” would have required a state constitutional amendment, a supermajority in both the State Senate and Assembly, and then be put to the public for a vote. The proposal would have dramatically raised taxes, with tax raises on individuals making more than $149,500 per year with incremental increases, and additional payroll taxes on businesses exceeding $2 million in annual profits. Another failed proposal from progressive Democrats, was AB854, which would have established a 5 year eviction moratorium in rent control jurisdictions.
The failures of the healthcare and rental moratorium bills were major defeats for the “progressive” agenda in California, both failing to garner support from moderate Democrats in the legislature. Even though Governor Newsom had promised to support single payer during the recall campaign, he backed away from supporting the healthcare bill when it was proposed. Since then Newsom proposed a watered down version of single payer, that he hasn’t further pursued. Newsom may be corrupt but he is not a leftist, and is pragmatic in the sense of not wanting to alienate his affluent donor base whom the bill would have imposed a substantial tax hike on. Not to mention the health insurance industry that has been a major backer of Newsom and Democratic coffers.
Single payer healthcare is a good idea in principle but the proposal was deeply flawed. Primarily because California has one of the most inefficient state bureaucracies, with high taxes but subpar services. There were concerns that the tax hike could have penalized businesses for hiring more workers and caused an exodus of businesses and upper middle class residents out of the state, further hampering tax revenue. However, it was unclear whether the bill would have ended private health insurance or created a tiered system that allowed people to keep their private insurance. There are better ways to expand and improve healthcare. For starters Medi-Cal could be expanded for greater coverage and improved upon for only a fraction of the cost of creating an entire new healthcare bureaucracy from scratch.
Categories: Economics/Class Relations