Single-payer health care advances in CA, but they still don't know how to pay for it

The California Senate has passed a bill that would eliminate private health insurance in the state and replace it with a single-payer system.  The bill now moves on to the General Assembly, where supporters are confident that it will pass.

Amid the celebrations by Democrats at the historic vote, lawmakers neglected to explain one tiny detail of the plan: how in the name of all that is good and holy are they going to pay for the $400-billion-a-year price tag?

CBS News:

In a study commissioned by the California Nurses Association, which is the lead sponsor for the bill, researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst said Californians could save billions of dollars under the system, in part, because of lower drug prices and because families would no longer have to pay copays, deductibles or premiums, CBS San Francisco reports.

The measure would have died if it failed to clear the Senate this week. Democrats said they wanted to keep it alive as the Assembly tries to work out a massive overhaul of the state health care system.

"With President Trump's promise to abandon the Affordable Care Act as we know it, it leaves millions without access to care and California is once again tasked to lead," said Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens who wrote the single-payer bill with Sen. Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat.

Universal government-funded health care could give the state extraordinary bargaining power to negotiate favorable rates with drug makers, hospitals, doctors and other health care providers while eliminating costs associated with billing insurance companies, Lara said.

Critics, however, warned that the measure would require massive tax hikes and lead to long waits for health care.

What sort of tax hikes?  Considering that the entire state budget for California in FY2018 is $177 billion, the term "massive" tax hikes takes on a whole new meaning.

LA Times:

The California Nurses Assn., which sponsored the bill, released a fiscal analysis this week that proposed raising the state sales and business receipts taxes by 2.3% to raise $106 billion of the annual cost, with the rest proposed to come from state and federal funding already going to Medicare and Medicaid services.

It's called "repurposing" Medicare and Medicaid funds, which is just a fancy name for stealing.  The state would take federal funds earmarked for Medicare and Medicaid and redirect them to fund this wildly expensive scheme.

Taxing gross receipts of businesses will only drive more companies out of state, with the subsequent loss of jobs and revenue.  Of course, a sales tax is incredibly regressive, hitting the poor far harder than the rich. 

And the pie-in-the-sky notion that the rest of the $400-billion price tag can be met with "savings" only reveals Democrats to be delusional.  Even Governor Brown has expressed some concerns about how the state can pay for the plan.

The fact is, single-payer still has a long row to hoe:

Even if the bill is approved, it has to go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been skeptical, and then voters would have to exempt it from spending limits and budget formulas in the state Constitution. In addition, the state would have to get federal approval to repurpose existing funds for Medicare and Medicaid.

If Democrats can pull the wool over the eyes of voters to make them believe that funding this monstrosity is possible, a single-payer system is likely to become a reality in California.

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