Editor | California pauses on Medicare for All and single-payer health care

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people over the age of 65, has been heralded by many politicians as the ideal framework for universal health coverage. Progressive Democrats are pushing for a Medicare for All plan that would essentially provide universal health coverage, a concept also promoted by single-payer health care advocates. The money will be financed by taxes.

Single payer would remove insurance companies and other aspects of private enterprise from medical care and provide everyone with the same services, regardless of income. Under single payer, one organization would be responsible for all costs, while Medicare for All refers to a specific federal single payer program. Both seek universal health care coverage, ensuring no one is uninsured.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Congress’s biggest proponent of Medicare for All, held the last congressional hearing on that policy in May 2022 while serving as Chairman Senate Budget. But the hearing did not create any new momentum for legislation to promote one or both universal coverage systems.

However, California appears to be taking steps toward a form of universal coverage. Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 770, a bill that appears to kick-start the process of ensuring a statewide single-payer health system. That move was the first by any state toward single payer. Other states have moved to the public option, a more incremental approach to government-run health care compared to single payer and allowing people to opt into a health plan. government-sponsored health insurance or continue with their private insurance.

The issue arose again this year with two measures in the Legislature: SB 770, which aims to create the framework for a universal system, and the other, which raises taxes on businesses to fund a system so. A tax proposal to help fund single-payer coverage was introduced to lawmakers earlier this year and would raise about $150 billion annually to offset losses in coverage due to employer-provided, paying about one-third of the estimated cost of a single-payer system for nearly 40 people. million Californians. In theory, the rest would come from pooling money already spent by federal, state and local governments. But the tax measure went nowhere.

SB 770 now directs the secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency to work with federal partners on a path toward a unified health financing system under which money flows to health care from Washington accounts for about 50% of all states’ public and private health spending. will be given directly to the state.

According to the language of SB 770, the legislation would fund a comprehensive package of medical, behavioral health, pharmacy, dental and vision benefits, including primary care, preventive prevention and health care.

But it does not specify a single-payer system, and some advocates, especially nurses’ unions, are opposing the bill saying Newsom’s approval of SB 770 is a complete betrayal of nurses’ Dozens of people fight for single-payer health care.

At best, SB 770 is a somewhat halting step toward universal coverage in a state where Newsom and the Legislature have expanded Medi-Cal to underinsured groups, such as immigrants. undocumented residents. Medi-Cal is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to eligible people living in California. Those actions, combined with Obamacare mandates and subsidies, have left 94.8% of Californians covered by some type of health insurance, according to a recent UCLA survey.

But asking the federal government to send about $200 billion back to the state would create another set of problems, as single payer would require Californians currently receiving care through users labor, unions or public agencies must give up their welfare and join a regulated global system. by the state.

However, considering how the state manages major programs like unemployment insurance, are all Californians willing to trust their medical and insurance needs to the state government? Actually?

Next: How to navigate Medicare plans and what to look out for.

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