State Sen. Scott Wiener introduces new bill to lay groundwork for single-payer healthcare

A new bill introduced in the California State Senate aims to lay the foundation for a state universal health care system and proposes a phased approach that departs from recent sweeping and unsuccessful efforts to change the way the people of California are cared for, redesign.

Under State Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) action, California would begin the process of seeking a federal government waiver to allow the use of Medicaid and Medicare funds for a nation’s first single-payer health care system.

“After the devastation of COVID-19 and the skyrocketing costs for working people, the need for affordable health care for all Californians was greater than ever.” Wiener said in a statement. He touted his action as “tangible steps in a concrete timeline to achieve universal and more affordable healthcare in California.”

The legislation would require the California Secretary of Health and Human Services to make recommendations on drafting the federal waiver by June 1, 2024.

Proponents say that single-payer health care — which would cover every California resident and be funded entirely from state funds (including misappropriated federal dollars) — is more efficient than our current system, in which available care and costs depend on whether a person is privately insured, is enrolled in a public plan such as Medi-Cal, or is uninsured.

Universal health coverage is a top priority for progressives, who championed the Medicare for all plan during his two presidential elections. A 2017 California law establishing a depositor system was approved by the Senate but shelved by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood).

The backlash inflamed the left wing of the Democratic Party, which viewed the depositors as a litmus test for political candidates, and Governor Gavin Newsom championed the cause during his 2018 campaign.

On his first day in office in 2019, Newsom called on Congress and the then-President Trump White House to change federal laws that would allow California to pursue a depositor system.

But Newsom has been more focused on expanding coverage in California for people residing in the country illegally. Meanwhile, its 2019 budget created a commission to study steps toward realizing a universal health system; This body published its final report last year.

Newsom declined to comment on the latest major bill for depositors, a bill by Rep. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose). That measure was abruptly withdrawn by Kalra last year after other Democrats objected to the asking price, which ranged from an estimated $341 billion to $391 billion.

The main proponent of a single-payer system, the California Nurses Association, criticized Kalra for refusing to put the assembly’s bill to a vote. But they’re teaming up with Kalra again this year to once again enact a universal healthcare system they’re calling CalCare.

Kalra’s bill is scant in detail at the moment, suggesting that bill supporters expect a widespread campaign to bolster support among both lawmakers and grassroots activists. The nurses’ union is sponsoring 45 events across California this weekend to rally support for their efforts.

Wiener legislation takes a decidedly more modest approach, focusing solely on the federal waiver process. Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers and a supporter of the bill, said this approach reflected lessons learned from the failure of two hotly contested, broader measures.

“From my point of view, that’s not controversial at all,” Rosselli said. “Our governor, the administration, the senate, the assembly, the majority of our elected leaders support this system to improve our health care.”

Still, he acknowledged that fierce opponents of depositors — largely the big interests of the healthcare industry — might think differently.

“I don’t expect the industry to support this at any level,” he said.

Preston Young, a political attorney for the California Chamber of Commerce, signaled that the group was wary of the plan.

“Regardless of the incremental approach, the fact remains that a single-payer, state-run healthcare system will cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars annually,” Young said. State Sen. Scott Wiener introduces new bill to lay groundwork for single-payer healthcare

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

Related Articles

Back to top button