California’s universal health care proposal includes covering undocumented immigrants


State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, has introduced a bill to overhaul California’s health care system to create a single-payer model, the latest example of the Golden State bucking the Trump agenda and taking a “go it alone” approach.

The Healthy California Act would create a universal health care system – including covering residents who are in the country illegally. It’s a measure in response to the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Congress. Since the ACAs passing, California has embraced Obamacare despite continued concerns over access to affordable care.

“We have reached a pivotal moment where there’s a threat to health care,” Lara said. “I felt it was important that we create a different narrative here in California.”

This isn’t the first time such legislation has come into focus, as then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a single-payer bill back in 2006.

Critics of a “Medicare for all” system cite heavy costs associated with an overhaul, as health care expenditures in California totaled $367.5 billion in 2016, making it the state’s largest industry. Furthermore, with undocumented immigrants being covered, those costs would substantially increase. As the Los Angeles Times explained, employees and their employers would face increased taxes and those revenues would be combined with the funds used for Medicare and Medicaid.

While at this point specifics appear light, it’s important to note that California currently relies on about $22 billion in federal funding every year to cover insurance subsidies.

More broadly, it’s the latest example of California waging a fight against the Trump administration. The state has already stoked high-profile battles to defend so-called “sanctuary city” policies, with major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco vowing to continue to defy federal law by not cooperating with immigration authorities.

A recently published Rasmussen poll found that 41 percent of Republicans say America won’t be hurt if California became a separate country – and given its solo approach in the Trump era, it may already feel that way to those between the coasts.

Drew Gregory Lynch is a CalWatchdog contributor


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