California politicians aren’t sitting around waiting to see what becomes of Obamacare reform on Capitol Hill; the state Senate Health Committee voted 5-2 in favor of a single-payer bill for Californians on Wednesday.
Sponsored by state senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, the bill—as the Los Angeles Times noted back in February–would institute a state-run health care plan that would cover everyone living within California, regardless of immigration status. The government would then pay for all medical expenses and prohibit insurers from offering similar benefits, among other details.
“With today’s vote we are closer to being able to say, once and for all, that healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a human right,” Lara said in a statement. “Every family, every child, every senior deserves healthcare that costs less and covers more, and California has a chance to lead the rest of the nation toward universal care.”
This is not the first time a state has considered such a policy, or even the first time California has. Vermont thought about such a plan in 2011 but scrapped it three years later after the government had a hard time implementing the law. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor of California, he vetoed single-payer legislation twice, in 2006 and 2008. And Colorado defeated a single-payer measure on the ballot last November.
Yet, as congressional Republicans continue to deliberate on ways to scale back Obamacare, backers of the California bill think that the timing is ripe for an overhaul of the state’s health care system. Questions, however, remain over how the state government would fund the program.\
Those who favor the bill mentioned the large amount of support—particularly from labor groups —and said that it would be the best way to provide coverage for all residents.