Letters to the Editor: Budget deficits are a bad excuse for California to kill single-payer healthcare

Supporters of single-payer healthcare march in Sacramento in 2017.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: Assembly Bill 2200, the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, or CalCare, was buried without a public vote in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week. Politicians who claim to support single-payer healthcare now say it must be delayed because the state has a massive budget deficit.

In a piece last year in Forbes, emergency room physician Arthur L. Kellerman noted that the U.S. spends more on healthcare than other wealthy nations but ranks last in health outcomes.

Each time research confirms this bad news, two objections are made: that this country has world-class medical hospitals and research, and any medical system other than our own would cost too much.


Stark class divisions in this country prevent millions of people from getting timely checkups and comprehensive care. Our healthcare system is fragmented by competing insurance companies. Small businesses are burdened by job-based health plans.

Bureaucrats and perverse incentives come between providers and patients. Doctors burn out, because while they are trained to heal and save lives, they spend too much time arguing with insurance companies.

This broken system is already staggeringly expensive. A single-payer system would cost less and cover more. The administrative costs created by insurance companies would be drastically reduced.

If there is no democracy in healthcare, the foundation of the social contract is undermined. Healthcare delayed is healthcare denied.

Scott Tucker, Los Angeles


To the editor: Tell readers the truth about single-payers systems — they don’t work.

Most of us who live in California are lucky. If we need to see a doctor, we can typically get an appointment within a few days. But not everyone is so lucky, and we must find ways to help those less fortunate.


But it is not necessary to destroy our whole healthcare delivery system to do that.

According to the Fraser Institute, a libertarian think tank in Canada, in 2023, Canadian patients waited longer than ever for medical treatment in their government-funded system. The physicians surveyed reported a median wait time of almost 28 weeks — more than six months.

Single-payer systems tend to have one big problem: They are massively underfunded, and that causes unacceptable delays in getting help from a doctor. Why would we want that in California?

Doug McDermott, Santa Monica


To the editor: Did Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), chair of the Appropriations Committee, bother to read the analysis of AB 2200 written by a principal consultant of her own committee?

That analysis clearly delineates AB 2200 as a policy bill, not a spending bill. It also quotes the 2022 finding by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Healthy California for All Commission that, if single-payer were enacted, changes to the current system would reduce overall healthcare spending, saving California billions.


As Appropriations chair, Wicks has power over the fate of many bills. By denying Californians improved, comprehensive, universal healthcare and freedom from medical debt, Wicks is also denying California a long-term investment to protect us from future deficits.

Carol Fodera, La Crescenta