Democrats resurrect single-payer health care bill

With federal health care reform on life support, California Democrats this morning quietly moved to  resurrect a state-based single-payer health insurance system with an estimated $200 billion annual price tag.


The Senate Appropriations Committee voted without comment along party lines, 6-3, to lift from suspense — the dead file — Senate Bill 810 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

The bill is almost identical to former Sen. Sheila Kuehl’s 2008 single-payer bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed.

Voting in favor of moving the bill forward this morning were Democratic sens. Christine Kehoe of San Diego, Ellen Corbett of San Leandro, Leno, Carol Liu of Pasadena, Curren Price of Los Angeles and Leland Yee of San Francisco.

In opposition were GOP sens. Dave Cox of Fair Oaks, Jeff Denham of Merced and Mimi Walters of Tustin.

The legislation would create a state insurance program for Californians at an estimated cost of $200 billion a year.  Leno’s bill does not spell out how the financially strapped state would pay for the program; that would be left up to an appointed panel to determine. Kuehl’s bill would have imposed a variety of payroll and other taxes on the wealthy to fund the program.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • The Democrats in Sacramento just don’t get it. The price tag for this health care takeover is more than double the entire state budget, and it does nothing to address our current $20 billion deficit. In fact, this plan makes the deficit worse ten times over. Californians are losing their jobs and homes. They are struggling to care for their families. People everywhere want relief from high prices and high taxes. They desperately want to get back to work.

  • Initially I thought the $200 had to be a typo. The idea that any responsible official would suggest adding a $200 billion-a-year program (over twice the current budget)to a state drowning in red ink with a floundering economy.

    Our state is already the butt of financial jokes. As Brett Arends recently observed in the Wall Street Journal “It now costs more to insure Californian municipal debt against default than it does bonds issued by the government of Kazakhstan, the central Asian country satirized in ‘Borat.'”

    We better served if the Legislature spent time finding a way to balance the budget, not making matters worse.

  • The timing for this resurrection is amazingly poor. With so much political focus on health care at the national level, why would the Democrats try to sell this very expensive bill now and in this form. Doing so shows strategic incompetence.

  • John W.

    Looks like somebody has made one too many trips to the cannabis dispensary.

  • Elwood

    Re: #5

    “Doing so shows strategic incompetence.”

    How about “Doing so shows stupidity.”

    $200 Billion?


  • Steve G MD

    Think of your child with cancer and you don’t have the money to get care and he dies. Is it worth it to save him or just too expensive? Is there a justification coming from anti health care reform advocate that is going to make you feel better. Remember the money to save him will come from the people who have more money than they know what to do with. Why are healthcare and money linked? When you can’t get healthcare for your loved one the decision to tell you tough luck buddy your kid has to die for lack of money might might not be that easy to swollow.

  • Laura F

    Looks like a lot of CA democrats want to lose their seats in the State Assembly
    – good!!!
    and Steve G – give me one example of what you are describing actually happening – I don’t think you can

  • Michele

    “NO” on UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. The STATE is bankrupt and I am being over-taxed as it is…..SEriously, these Senators must be crazy… Pelosi must be behind this somehow.

    Voting in favor of moving the bill forward this morning were:

    Democratic Senators
    Christine Kehoe of San Diego (916) 651-4039
    Finishes her final term in 2012

    Ellen Corbett of San Leandro (916) 651-4010
    Up for Re-election in 2010

    Carol Liu of Pasadena (916) 651-4021
    Up for Re-election in 2016

    Curren Price of Los Angeles (916) 651-4026
    Up for Re-election in 2010

    Leland Yee of San Francisco. (916) 651-4008
    Up for re-election in 2010

  • Brian

    The further left the Dems move, the further right the people move. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. They should push this bill as far as they can. CA will soon be back in the hands of supply-siders and we will be back on the road to prosperity. Let them show their hand so the people can slap their wrist. FREE HEALTH CARE FOR EVERYONE!

  • $200 billion? Please. Too many Californians know the facts. Single payer SB 810 will be revenue neutral and will save the state $Billions. One publicly funded plan, supported by a fair and equitable premium that everyone pays, according to their ability to pay. (Just like Medicare). It’s simple. SB 810 eliminates for-profit insurance and permanently fixes this mess. Instead of 33% of every health care dollar going to insurance company profits, marketing and admin, SB 810 will have less than 5% administrative overhead. This is why virtually every major city council has endorsed this simple legislation. The California Teachers Association, the League of Women Voters, Council of Churches and some 20 other major organizations are part of the coalition. A LARGE number of our supporters are REPUBLICANS. Single payer SB 810 is the answer and California will show the nation how real reform is done.
    If you were in Sacramento last Monday, January 11, you saw a small sample of the public force behind SB-810. The video of it can be seen at californiaonecare.org.

  • PJ

    “money. . . will come from the people who have more money than they know what to do with.” What a tragic mis-statement, one that assumes that the government knows better than each individual how to spend his/her money. The writer of the previous comment makes a compelling argument that you wouldn’t give up on your child’s life because of the expense; however, I also wouldn’t put the responsibility for running a health care system in the hands of a government that has shown clearly that it cannot handle its current finances. This is NOT the answer.

  • Brian

    Steve g MD,

    Name one kid in California that has died of cancer because his parents couldn’t pay for it. That’s a silly argument. Don’t you get it? There isn’t any money left! It’s gone, spent, wasted on bloated State “workers” (there’s an oximoron for you) overpay and outrageous benefit packages.

    There simply isn’t any money left. And stealing more from “rich” people, who create all the jobs and wealth in the first place is only going to hasten the bankruptcy of the state.

    If the State’s so called “leaders” cared a wit about little kids with cancer dying because they don’t have insurance, they would quit chocking the State economy to death and get out of the way of the “rich” job creating people, so that average people like you and me could have good jobs that offered health insurance.

    Get govt. out of the way, and the “rich” will create jobs, people will have work and benefits.

    It really is that simple.

  • Jason

    @Steve G MD:
    Nice emotional appeal. “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

    Here’s a question: why didn’t you save up enough money to cover your family’s healthcare costs? Why is your inability to plan for the future my problem? A lack of planning on your part is not an emergency on my part…

    “The money to save him will come from the people who have more money than they know what to do with.” Until they move out of state, like they’ve been doing in droves for years now. Then where will the money come from?

  • Dan

    Hey Steve G Fake-MD:

    Are you stupid or just stupid? What rich people do you think have $200 Billion to be raped from them to save this imaginary child? Yes, there are children and old people and others that need help, but $200 Billion??? From raping “people who have more money than they know what to do with?” Are you STUPID? You have the right to force them to do what YOU want them to do with their own money? You are either STUPID or a communist.

  • Phillip McKann

    @Steve G MD, your story brought a tear to my eye, but it is 100% unmitigated BS.

    I challenge you to find and post a single story where a child has died from cancer in this state because his/her family had no money. There are many existing options for low income families in this state.

    Your argument is intellectually and morally dishonest.

    Here is my story: One more tax on me, and I leave the state. Steve G MD, I hope you make more than you know what to do with because you’ll be picking up my share of the tab.

  • RSweeney

    Democrats have proven themselves incapable of responsible leadership.

    Anyone honest should leave the party now.

    The people must stand up and vote these idiots out.
    All of them. At EVERY level. In EVERY race.

  • V Davisson

    I called every one of the telephone numbers listed above and got only apathetic office staffers. They listlessly took the information and said they’d “pass it along.” I am hopping mad! I am on dialysis and am in remission from cancer. My insurance has been magnificent—they have paid and paid and paid. I cannot go without health insurance! Who do these people think they are???


  • Tim

    Here’s a solution for Steve G, MD: we’ll simply require all physicians to provide no-cost health care to any person under the age of 18. No paperwork, insurance forms, you can probably reduce office staff and costs because there is no need to bill anyone for the care. Oh, by the way, the physician will also eat the cost of any consumables, equipment and drugs, as well.

    How ’bout it, Steve?

    Since you are so happy to have me pay for it.

  • Dee

    Unbelievable…what are these people smoking? California is on the brink of bankruptcy, but the leftist government wants to saddle us with more deficit spending-nuts.

    And to the person who tried the “what if your child had cancer and died because you didn’t have health care” argument–that’s just humbug, because here in California, that child would NOT die because you don’t have health care; rather that child would be on medicaid and would have excellent care through top flight doctors and hospitals (e.g. UCLA, Cedars, USC Norris Cancer Center, etc.). Besides, low income children not on medicaid can be covered with Healthy Families for 19 bucks a month–and both medicaid and healthy families will accept illegal immigrants, so stop the violin playing–you’re hurting my ears.

  • Carolyn Negrete

    SB 810 is a Single Payer proposal to provide health care for everyone in California. The Lewin Group calculated the cost based on a 5% increase each year over the amount being spent in 2003. That amount was projected to be $200 billion in 2010. It was $186 billion in 2006. The amount spent on health care has always been about twice the size of the State budget. The money is aggregated from all sources. The cost is now riding by 10% to 18% a year.

    SB 810 the Single Payer Plan was constructed to control costs and cover everyone. The Lewin Group Analysis is available on their website.

    The National health plan could be constructed to do this too.

  • Wow. Another $200B in leftist tax-and-give-away shenanigans. How did Meg Whitman get those six stooges to do this for her?

  • John W.

    I’m for universal health care, but California is too politically and fiscally inept to handle something like this on its own.

    How would the bill affect Kaiser?

  • tim

    I’ll bet the chambers of commerce in OR, NV and AZ are all in favor of this.

    More businesses will leave the state, more jobs will go overseas and more high income taxpayers will flee.

  • John B

    What kind of idiots do you elect in CA? The state is going broke and businesses are leaving in droves and now is the time for huge tax increases?

  • Herc

    excepting for #25,Carolyn Negrete and #13,George Savage above, who both favor Mark Leno’s SB810, these rants are misleading and a destructive spread of disinformation.

    please check the following and get to the truth before you respond:

    1) Google Wikipedia “health care reform in the US-costs”. you will see the following data with references from the US Gov and the World Health Org:
    “spending on health care in the U.S. is about 16% of its GDP.[13][14] In 2007, an estimated $2.26 trillion was spent on health care in the United States, or $7,439 per capita.”

    2) The US Census Bureau estimates Calif. 2008 population as 36,756,666. According to AP wire service, “The Department of Finance’s demographics unit said California had nearly 37.7 million residents as of Jan. 1, 2007, up by about 470,000 since the start of 2006. One of every eight Americans now lives in the state.”

    3) if you prefer to believe AP over the Government, 37,700,000 Californians multiplied by $7439 gives 2007 health care cost in our state as $280,450,300,000 —
    or over 280 Billion dollars. Check my math and go back to re-read responses # 13 & 25, above.

    Personally, I have been a health care provider for over 52 years. I continue to work as a dentist -on a limited schedule. I support a publicly funded, everybody-in-nobody-out system, a Medicare-for-All kind of single payer health care plan. I am hopeful SB 810 gets the truth out about the issues without the BIG BUCKS of the insurance industry more convincingly distorting the truth to a justifiably angry, impatient public.
    As the owner of a small dental office for 46 years, I was required to support a staff to send claims for payment to a crazy quilt of private insurers, over 400 separate, for-profit insurance offices throughout the USA every year. I do not doubt the 30% loss in efficiency and the unfairness of our health care delivery system cited by supporters of single payer health care.

    The dentist who has succeeded me in my practice and I firmly back the single payer remedy for our ailing health care system.It is the fairest method to give all of us access to health care.

    Should there be any doubt about my statement of 400+ ins. offices, consider that the trade association AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans, has some 1,300 members.

    Quick, short answers are satisfying to deliver, and may be convincing to to others, but as stated at my high school over 60 years ago, it is only the truth that shall set us free.

  • Annie

    Re Herc’s dentistry. My sister lives in Scotland. Do you wonder why the Brits don’t have the straighest/whitest teeth? Their dentists are a part of the “free health care” system. Imagine having to wait for the orthodontst to come to town to have your braces checked, and -oops!- you’re sick that day, so you wait another 6 weeks…

  • danvilledan

    Before Carolyn Negrete uses the Lewin Group website she should read about them.The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician’s group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the “usual and customary” doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.

  • Herc

    Danvilledan:Please do not slam the Lewin group until you have digested Wikipedia’s description:
    “The Lewin Group is a policy research and consulting firm that provides economic analysis of health care and human services issues and policies.[23] The organization has existed for about 40 years and has maintained a nonpartisan reputation through its many ownership changes that have occurred over the years.[24] The Lewin Group was purchased in 2007 by Ingenix, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, but maintains editorial and analytical independence from its parent company.[25] The Lewin Group discloses its ownership in its reports and on its web site. While the Lewin Group does not advocate for or against any legislation, both Democratic and Republican politicians frequently cite the firm’s studies to argue for and against various U.S. healthcare reform proposals.[26] For example, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden uses Lewin Group estimates to cite the feasibility of his Healthy Americans Act.[27] Representative Eric Cantor, the House Republican Whip, has referred to the organization as “the nonpartisan Lewin Group” in arguing against government-funded health insurance proposals. Recently, several Lewin studies have been used to argue both for and against the inclusion of a public option in national health reform. Lewin clients who often cite its findings include The Commonwealth Fund which recently held up a Lewin study it commissioned to advocate for a public plan. The report showed that legislative proposals would achieve nearly universal coverage and “estimated that a public plan could offer small businesses insurance that is at least 9 percent cheaper than current small-business policies.”[28] However, The Lewin Group has acknowledged that clients sometimes choose not to publicize the results of studies they have commissioned. Indeed, Lewin Group Vice President John Sheils told the Washington Post “sometimes studies come out that don’t show exactly what the client wants to see. And in those instances, they have [the] option to bury the study.”[29]”

  • This issue demands innovative, effective solutions, not the same old rant from both sides. Hat’s off to #31 Herc for his analysis and thoughts. The real evil here is not healthcare reform, not even universal single payer coverage. The real devil is the federal government. They have become what the Founders fought a war against and wrote a Constitution to prohibit: an arbitrary and distant ruler who has no connection nor accountability to local communities.

    SB 810 give California the chance to drive the federal government back into its cage. For the GOP to simply stamp its foot and say “NO to healthcare reform” will boomerang quicker than you can imagine (look how quickly things went sour for the Dems). The GOP needs to get ahead of this issue, acknowledge that something has to be done, and help wrest control back from Washington. Whatever does happen with healthcare, we DO NOT want 49 other States running our system, which is what will happen if left to Congress.

    Being forced to balance the budget, California will quickly find out how much health insurance the State can afford. Fine, we can reconcile that in Sacramento. If left to the federal government, the program (and there WILL be a program of some sort) will run up ever more red ink until the Nation is crushed, prosperity destroyed and security compromised.

    Give me ANY program with 1) local control, 2) politicians under term limits, and 3) a mandated balanced budget any time over a program that lack any or all of those.

    SB 810 might or might not be good medicine, but politically it is a matter of survival for California.

    Warm regards,

  • ColleenDenver

    It’s hard to take Obama serious about autism when he appoints someone like Ari Ne’eman as the spokesperson for autism. Ne’eman, like so many other eccentrics these days, is yet another example of the Donna Williams of the past who pretend to be autistic, but are really suffering from mental illness and other conditions that mimic autistic like features. The autism spectrum is so far out of control because the experts consulted about autism aren’t experts. They don’t live with autistic persons. A good video on YOU TUBE talks about the spectrum from a mom’s view. She has a severe or perhaps profoundly autistic son. Her video on YOU TUBE is called “autism spectrum seems out of control.” It certainly makes you question the entire spectrum disorder.

  • Jeff W

    So perhaps one of you Limbeciles would care to explain why businesses would “leave the state” because their health insurance costs were drastically reduced. What you call “raising taxes” in your bizarre, pavlovian rants would actually be a matter of taking the money we’re currently paying towards billions every year in insurance company profits and putting it towards health care instead, in the process drastically reducing the cost of hospital beds, drugs, and dme. For anyone with a brain, it’s a complete no-brainer.