State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said that “it’s too soon to say” whether she supports the single-payer health insurance bill introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens. “The bill’s still in the early stages; it hasn’t even been assigned to committee yet, so it’s premature to say whether I support it or not,” said Jackson. Jackson stressed she regards health care as “a right, not a privilege” and has vigorously denounced Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Lara introduced a bill to create a statewide single-payer system — long the health-care equivalent of the Holy Grail among liberal Democrats — in response to those Republican efforts, which to date have not borne fruit. Jackson expressed apprehension at the tax increase a single-payer approach would require. Given that the Legislature just approved an increase in gas taxes to generate $52 billion for road repairs, there’s limited appetite in Sacramento for another major tax hike. How big a tax increase Lara’s bill would require remains uncertain, given the lack of detail included. Single-payer advocates argue that the savings in health-care expenditures will more than offset the bump needed to pay for such a system.
Peter Conn, a longtime Santa Barbara single-payer activist, says 30 cents of every medical-care dollar now spent could be saved by eliminating private insurance companies from the equation, as the single-payer system would do. Conn said that interest in a single-payer approach has jumped dramatically since the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned loudly to abolish Obamacare.
Governor Jerry Brown belittled Lara’s lack of specifics as to how his bill would be funded, likening it to solving a big problem by creating a bigger one. Lara has expressed interest in running for statewide Insurance Commissioner.