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California Legislature

California lawmaker proposes bill that would create a single-payer healthcare system in the state

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) on Friday introduced a bill that would create a single-payer healthcare system in California.

Lara said that although the federal Affordable Care Act expanded health coverage, medical care is still too expensive, even for those with insurance, and the law excludes immigrants in the country illegally.

"We have reached a pivotal moment where there's a threat to healthcare," Lara said. "I felt it was important that we create a different narrative here in California."

A single-payer system would be a complete overhaul of the healthcare system. In such a system, one state agency would manage the financing of everyone's healthcare. Most likely, employees and employers would be taxed and the state agency would combine that money with the funds California currently has for Medicaid, Medicare and other health programs. When people would seek medical care, the state would cover the bill.

Single-payer legislation has been introduced many times in the state. The Legislature became the first in the country to pass a single-payer bill in 2006, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

RoseAnn DeMoro, head of the California Nurses Assn. and a longtime supporter of a single-payer system, said she thinks the disarray in Washington around the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act makes now the perfect time to switch to a single-payer system.

"We're hoping it sails through and we can introduce the same healthcare system to America," she said.

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