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Gavin Newsom adds a new plank to his 2018 campaign for California governor — a statewide universal healthcare system

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)

In his 2018 bid for governor of California, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told the the Sacramento Bee he'll propose a universal healthcare system for the state, a response to ongoing efforts by President Trump and the Republican-led Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act.

With the proposal, which is modeled on a city program he supported while mayor of San Francisco, Newsom is trying to stake a claim to an issue that may become pivotal in the contested race, especially among his biggest Democratic rivals.

Newsom told the Bee he's consulting with healthcare leaders to craft a statewide system.

Healthy San Francisco, the first-in-the-nation, city-run universal healthcare effort he conceived, is funded in part by an employer mandate and covers uninsured adults living in San Francisco. Launched in 2007, the plan enrolls all residents without health insurance, regardless of their income, immigration status or existing medical conditions.

The California Legislature already has started exploring the idea of a adopting a state-run “single-payer” system that would operate similar to Medicare.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced a bill in late February that would make California the first state to adopt a single-payer system. In a single-payer system, residents would pay into a state agency that essentially functions as an insurance company. The agency would pay doctors and hospitals when people sought treatment.

Bills establishing single-payer healthcare systems made it through the Legislature in 2006 and 2008 only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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