The clash over health care

Jan. 28, 2010


On a vote of 22 to 14, the California State Senate today approved Senate Bill 810, which creates a government-run health care system, also known as single-payer health care.

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to create a single-payer health system in the state. In a party-line vote (6-3), Democratic senators pushed through the controversial proposal, even after the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said the bill would cost California taxpayers at least $200 billion more a year.

The proposal by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) authorizes $1 million to establish a commission that would decide how to pay for the system. The funding plan would ultimately have to be approved by voters. Yet during the hearing, Leno said that, “We are spending $200 billion currently. It is the same $200 billion used in a more efficient, cost-effective fashion.”

A source close to Leno said the $200 billion cost is not new spending, but rather what is currently being spent in California by employers, employees and the state on health care. The source said Leno’s proposal would take the $200 billion and turn it into the single-payer system, potentially saving $8 billion just the first year. The source said that the proposed health care bill would eliminate the middle man insurance companies and potentially save 30 percent in administrative costs.

When asked what would happen to the insurance companies and their employees, the source said that they would probably be integrated into the new system.

Opponents take a different view. “This plan is to the left and radical of what couldn’t get out of Washington,” Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) said during the hearing. After the hearing, Runner added that the vote “is a clash of philosophical views as well as the proper role of government.”

During the hearing, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Republicans have only been obstructing the Democrats’ health care bills and have proposed nothing of their own. Runner took exception when he spoke, saying Republicans have supported many reforms of insurance and health care.

Runner explained that he sought out and spoke with Steinberg after the hearing for clarification on Steinberg’s comments, and while he thought is was good to have the lively debate and exchange of ideas during the hearing, the Democrats risk alienating conservative Democrats by delivering only to their most liberal base. Indeed, during the hearing Runner said that the bill was related to “what caused that earthquake of election in Massachusetts,” referring to the recent upset win by Republican Scott Brown of the late- Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat. Runner added that he’s incredulous that anyone thinks “that the State of California can make better decisions in your health care.”

Of course, all this may prove to be largely symbolic. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already made it known that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.


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  1. PRI
    PRI Author 28 January, 2010, 19:36

    “The proposal by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) authorizes $1 million to establish a commission that would decide how to pay for the system.”

    I won’t even charge $1 to tell you how they’ll pay for the system: they’ll gouge the innards out of taxpayers.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  2. EastBay Larry
    EastBay Larry 28 January, 2010, 21:20

    It didn’t pass nationally because it was too much, even for many democrats. MA has it and is not pleased with the results. People die in Canada and Britain waiting for a chance to see a doctor. And now Leno thinks this is just want our bankrupt state needs to fix our healthcare problems.

    Run that reasoning by me again, I didn’t quite catch it.

    Reply this comment
  3. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 29 January, 2010, 10:36

    Just wanted to thank you for checking me out on my Twitter account. Appreciate your taking interest in your new e-pen pal.

    You won’t find anything particularly subversive about me. I’m not funded by a left-wing think tank, or by anyone for that matter. I’m just an average joe who thinks there are too many right-wing blogs running around doing damage. The right-wing has succeeded in wiping the dismal record of President Bush off the map and putting the blame for our problems on President Obama. I’m damned if I want to see them do the same thing here in California.

    I do not believe that government is the cause of all our problems. I do not believe that the Republican campaign to starve state government so they can “drown it in the bathtub” is the right way to go. I do believe that we need members of both parties to work TOGETHER (what a concept!) to help solve our state’s problems, not hunker down in their ideological bunkers and hurl abuse at the other side.

    So when I think you’ve gone over the top in criticizing pensions, or state government, or Democrats, I’ll do my best to respond. Obviously, one guy doing this in my spare time cannot compete with three people doing this full-time for pay (by the way, you don’t indicate your funding source on your blog). But I’ll give it my best shot.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Reply this comment
  4. Gene Brouillette
    Gene Brouillette 29 January, 2010, 13:57

    Is there not enough air in Sacramento to allow for clear thinking?

    Reply this comment
  5. Spokes
    Spokes 29 January, 2010, 18:55

    It’s beyond a normal person’s comprehension how such stupidity still reigns in the California legislature. Taxpayers are, once again, the victims of special interests. Voters beware: remember the names of these assholes that voted in favor of this Bill and ensure they are NOT reelected to any public office.

    Reply this comment
  6. Kronick-HCA
    Kronick-HCA 30 January, 2010, 22:54

    Having been diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes 90 days after I passed my CPA license, having audited and administer employer health plans and having been unable to buy health insurance for 37 years, I do not see government financing as the hinderance to “free market” medical care that private health insurers have been for close to a century. As a Vietnam veteran I get excellent health care through the VA and I worked in Europe for 6 years where I got excellent healthcare, but the private insurers have only one model of service, capitalizing deceipt.

    The PROBLEM is that private insurers are unaccountable, are not aligned with any structural governance or measurement control system, and are not integrated into any systemic interface with medical providers to initiate creative improvements to decades old procedures. The SB 810 legislation rectifies those failures in the existing healthcare conundrum.

    Reply this comment
  7. Joan from Santa Rosa
    Joan from Santa Rosa 1 February, 2010, 15:36

    I would like to see the whole bill before I make a decision. Yes for the uninsured legal citizens who can not afford health care and for those who are disabled we need to take care of them. Work on that not on mine I am happy with what I have.

    Reply this comment

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