Lara details single-payer plan

Saying it’s time “to make universal healthcare a reality,” state Sen. Ricardo Lara provided some detail for his Healthy California Act, a single-payer proposal.

Calif. Sen. Richardo LaraPreviously and deliberately left vague, the legislation from Lara, left, and co-author Sen. Toni Atkins now seeks to cover all Californians for all medical care, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care.

“With Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Californians really get what is at stake with their healthcare,” Lara said March 30. “We have the chance to make universal healthcare a reality now. It’s time to talk about how we get to healthcare for all that covers more and costs less.”

The Healthy California Act (Senate Bill 562) would eliminate co-payments and insurance deductibles. It also would put an end to “narrow networks chosen by insurance companies.”

The sponsors did not expanded upon finances for the massive operation, except to say it would be funded by “broad-based revenue.” The sponsors are developing “a detailed funding proposal.”

Some new proposals found in the Lara-Atkins plan:

  • The operation “would be governed by a nine-member, unpaid board appointed by the governor and Legislature and a public advisory committee of doctors, nurses, other health care providers and consumers.”
  • “Healthy California” would provide “premium assistance for Medicare Part D for eligible members.”
  • It “will seek waivers from the federal government to use all federal funds from Medi-Cal, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to support the program.”
  • The state healthcare operation “will not disclose personally identifiable information to the federal government about members’ religion, national origin, ethnicity or immigration status for law enforcement or immigration purposes.”

Insurance companies would be barred from competing with the state healthcare operation.

Gov. Jerry Brown has been skeptical of any single-payer proposals for his state, saying they “make no sense.”

“I don’t even get it — how do you do that?” Brown told reporters recently.

Lara’s unveiling of the healthcare proposal’s scope comes a week after the collapse of the GOP “repeal and replace” plan.

Former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl advanced a single-payer plan in 2007, but it was rejected.

(The term “single payer” refers to there being a sole source of all payments to providers, in most cases a government body.)

> Read the Lara-Atkins statement on the Healthy California Act.

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