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Antonio Villaraigosa questions whether a state single-payer healthcare system is affordable in California

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa said he supports universal healthcare but advocates for a state-sponsored single-payer system may be “creating false expectations” given the enormous costs involved.

The former Los Angeles mayor, speaking on KPPC’s "AirTalk" with Larry Mantle on Wednesday morning, said California’s top priority should be to replace the estimated $20 billion in federal money the state may lose for healthcare programs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

The comment came after Mantle asked Villaraigosa if he supported a bill in the California Legislature that would create a single-payer health system for California. According to a legislative analysis, the cost of the proposed healthcare system would be $400 billion annually.

Villaraigosa said he supports the ideal of single-payer health care but was skeptical about California being able to afford a state-run program. Supporters first have to explain how the state can pay for it, he said.

To afford the program, California also would need waivers from the federal government so it can use Medicare and Medi-Cal funds, which is not likely given the state’s hostile relationship with the Trump administration, he said.

Villaraigosa also chided Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic rival in the 2018 governor’s race, for voicing his support for a state single-payer system.

“Let’s not sell snake oil,” Villaraigosa said.

In March, Newsom said he plans to propose a universal healthcare system for the state modeled on a city program he supported while he was mayor of San Francisco.

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