By Speaker Anthony Rendon
California State Assembly, August 24, 2017
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) today announced that Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and Dr. Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), the chairs of the Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage, will hold ongoing hearings beginning in the legislative interim so the committee can develop plans for achieving universal health care in California.
“The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act helped galvanize the principle that health care is a basic right,” Rendon said. “There are several different approaches being proposed, including Medicare for all, single payer, hybrid systems and ACA expansion. I have called for these hearings to determine what approach best gets us there – what gets us to ‘yes’ when it comes to health care for all.”
Speaker Rendon stressed that the hearings would not simply go back over information covered in the past, but will provide a new opportunity to determine the best and quickest path forward toward universal health care. Overcoming potential federal and constitutional obstacles, ensuring delivery of care, and examining funding mechanisms will all be part of the committee’s purview.
“It’s not a question of debating whether we move toward health care for all – it’s a matter of choosing how best and how soon,” Rendon said. “The committee’s work will help fill the void of due diligence that should have been done on SB 562 or any universal health care bill that so profoundly affects so many Californians.”
“It is my direction that these hearings be focused and thorough, and produce real results,” Rendon said. “In addition to the oaths they took as legislators, Dr. Wood and Dr. Arambula have also taken oaths to protect and defend patients’ health, so I know they will take a vigorous approach to this challenge, and the committee will begin the heavy lifting needed to advance serious proposals for health care for all.”
Close to Home: The path to universal health care
By Jim Wood, Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee
The Press Democrat, August 25, 2017
Readers of The Press Democrat have seen opinion pieces on Senate Bill 562, the “Healthy California Act.” That bill, often called single-payer or Medicare for all, is being held in the state Assembly, and I have been criticized for not doing more to overturn that decision.
Let me be clear, I have always supported health care for all. I am a health care provider, chairman of the Assembly Health Committee and strongly believe that health care is a right.
Medicare for all has been a term used to describe the bill, and it is a concept I can actually support, but that’s not what SB 562 is. Medicare recipients have the option to purchase a supplemental policy that provides prescription coverage and may reduce or eliminate co-pays and shared cost. What would seniors think of folding their well-liked program into a state program?
As a legislator, I am doing whatever I can to protect the progress we have made with the Affordable Care Act. In addition, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced this week that I will join Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, who is a physician, to co-chair the Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage, which will hold hearings beginning in the legislative interim so the committee can develop plans for achieving universal health care in California. My priority will be to ensure that whatever system is proposed is sustainable.
It is my responsibility to endure whatever criticism is sent my way and to persevere, for as long as it takes to ensure that the end result is a sustainable and comprehensive health care system and not something that might sound good, but end up being an empty promise.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon received quite a push-back when he decided to withhold SB 562 – the “Healthy California Act,” a single payer bill for California. Under threat of recall, he has now established a special committee during the legislative interim that will “develop plans for achieving universal health care in California.”
Of concern is the fact that the committee is not being charged with the task of expanding SB 562 into a comprehensive, single payer package, as was the original legislative intent. Rather the committee is being instructed to look at “several different approaches being proposed, including Medicare for all, single payer, hybrid systems and ACA expansion.”
The California legislature already authorized a comprehensive study of various models of health care financing – The California Health Care Options Project. According to the study, single payer is vastly superior to other models, except for a government health service. The results were used to craft other single payer bills, including the two Kuehl bills that were passed by the California legislature only to be vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.
ACA expansion or hybrid systems would perpetuate the profound administrative excesses that characterize the U.S. system. They would also fall short on universality, equity, access, and affordability. We do not need more study of those deficient models.
Jim Wood, the chairman of the Assembly Health Committee and co-chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage, calls himself a health care provider, though he is a dentist – a member of a health care sector not noted for its single payer advocacy. He states that he has directed his attention to protecting ACA.
Chairman Wood also states that it is his “responsibility to endure whatever criticism is sent my way and to persevere, for as long as it takes to ensure that the end result is a sustainable and comprehensive health care system and not something that might sound good, but end up being an empty promise.” It sounds like he is bracing himself to endure the criticism he will receive when he opposes the “empty promise” of single payer. Let’s hope that is not what he means.
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