Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, January 7, 2019
In his first act as California’s 40th Governor, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a series of major, first-in-the-nation executive actions and budget proposals to lower prescription drug and health care costs for all California families and move California closer to the goal of health care for all.
(The Governor) Calls on the federal government to empower California to truly innovate: Governor Newsom has long said California should be the national leader in health care innovation. However, instead of cultivating and rewarding good ideas, current federal law hinders truly transformative innovation, such as a single-payer health care system. Governor Newsom sent a letter today to President Trump and Congressional leaders calling on the federal government to lift these limitations and, instead, empower states like California to enact transformative change that would allow California to develop a single-payer health system to achieve universal coverage, contain costs, and promote quality and affordability.
Office of the Governor, Letter, January 7, 2019
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
(Brief excerpts from a 6 page letter)
Existing law permits only limited, piecemeal innovation – not the comprehensive reform necessary to address the myriad challenges that Californians face when navigating today’s health care system.
However, to address this ongoing cost crisis in health care in the most effective way, we must have the federal tools to support California’s ability to provide quality healthcare for everyone, financed through a single-payer model like Medicare. We must have the tools to innovate and expand the Affordable Care Act. even as we build towards a more comprehensive, universal system that works for patients, providers, and taxpayers alike.
A comprehensive solution to affordable health care will require both wisdom and courage, with States and the federal government working together as partners. First and foremost, I ask that you amend federal law to enable States to apply for Transformational Cost and Universal Coverage Waivers, empowering California to pursue transformative health care reform, such as a single-payer system. Further, I ask that you build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act, especially by bolstering the affordability provisions of the law.
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Various federal policies and programs have prevented states from accomplishing transition into a state-level single payer system. In his first action, moments after his inauguration, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to create the largest single purchaser for prescription drugs and allow private employers to join the state in negotiating drug prices. Immediately after that, he signed a letter to the President and Congress asking that federal law be amended to permit a single payer financing system, like Medicare, in California. The letter also requested numerous innovations that would build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act.
There should be no confusion about priorities here. The political climate has improved for enactment of a national Medicare for All program, though not until after the next elections. Every effort should be made to set the stage for such an outcome. Because of the uncertainties of being able to accomplish that goal, willing states like California should move ahead with efforts to establish their own single payer systems, such as Saskatchewan did in Canada before the Canada Health Act was enacted. Since there are also uncertainties about the politics of establishing state single payer programs, it is appropriate to move forward with efforts to strengthen the benefits of the Affordable Care Act on a transitional basis. The primary caveat is that that we cannot allow lesser efforts to diminish in the least our resolve to establish a national Single Payer Medicare for All program. If the politics are not aligned, we need to change them.
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