February 3, 2022 | Updates

ICYMI: Single-Payer Health Care Falls in California

California joins numerous other states that have rejected unaffordable, one-size-fits-all health insurance systems 

WASHINGTON – The latest proposal for a one-size-fits-all, single-payer health insurance system in California failed on Monday, once again highlighting the unaffordable costs and lack of public support for creating new government-controlled health insurance systems.  

The Wall Street Journal reported: 

  • “Leaders in the Democratic-dominated lower chamber of the California legislature were preparing to bring the bill to a vote Monday afternoon, the deadline for it to advance and potentially be passed into law later in the year. CalCare’s author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, pulled it from consideration when it became clear it wouldn’t pass.” (Wall Street Journal, 1/31/22

The Los Angeles Times reported: 

  • “The UC Labor Center estimates that creating a single-payer system could cost the state $222 billion a year…” (Los Angeles Times, 1/12/22

California joins the long list of states who have unsuccessfully proposed legislation for single-payer health care. This latest development comes after another proposal for single-payer health care in 2017, estimated to cost $400 billion a year, could not pass in the state. 

In Vermont, lawmakers passed a single-payer healthcare law in 2011 but abandoned this plan after the law proved too expensive for the state. Implementing a single-payer health care system could have led to 11.5 percent payroll assessments on businesses and sliding premiums up to 9.5 percent of individuals’ income. 

In Connecticut, lawmakers abandoned their proposal to create a new state government-controlled health insurance system in the face of opposition from a broad coalition of key stakeholders – including the health care community, economic leaders, organized labor and the governor. This opposition came in response to research revealing state revenue could fall significantly — between $71 million and $122 million by 2023 — with a state public option. 

In New Mexico, lawmakers also abandoned a proposal to create a state government option, mainly due to the unaffordable costs, ultimately advancing a bill to study the issue instead.  

In Oregon, the push to create a state government-controlled option has been drawn out as the many potential costs and consequences continue to be reviewed — going back to 2019. 

And, in Illinois, where Governor Pritzker ran on the state government option, there has been no movement to create one. Instead, Governor Pritzker has passed legislation that builds on what’s working in our current system. 

In Colorado, the legislature failed to pass a state government-controlled option and instead advanced poorly designed rate-setting legislation with unknown costs and consequences for Coloradans. Research shows that a state public option could cost Colorado health care providers $830 million to $1 billion by 2024, which equates to losing 3,900 to 4,900 jobs. 

In Nevada, lawmakers rushed legislation to create a state government-controlled option. However, due to concerns about the cost of the bill, the final bill included a five-year actuarial study of a state public option before implementation, demonstrating hesitancy around the unaffordable health care plan. 

Data continues to show that building on what’s working in health care is the most efficient way to ensure Americans have access to the affordable care and coverage they deserve. Rather than starting over with unaffordable, unpopular, one-size-fits-all proposals, lawmakers should focus on building on and improving what’s working in health care.  



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