BY CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO AND ANGELA HART
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017 10:41 AM
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom challenged California’s Democratic-run Legislature to pass sweeping universal, government-run health care next year, pledging that if the bill stalls again, he will make it a priority regardless of what happens in Washington.
“There’s no reason to wait around on universal health care and single-payer in California,” Newsom said to thunderous applause from thousands of nurses who endorsed him in next year’s governor’s race. “It’s time to get move (Senate Bill) 562 along. It’s time to get it out of committee. It’s time to move it along the legislative track. It’s time to do that now. We don’t need to wait for the governor’s race. We don’t need even to wait another year.”
The former mayor of San Francisco acknowledged that the ambitious legislation was not fleshed out when Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a fellow Democrat, kept it from advancing earlier this year after it passed the state Senate.
But Newsom, touting his own role in helping bring universal health care to his city while tearing into the health insurance giant Anthem, said lawmakers should let the process play out, irrespective of the fight over the future of health care in Washington.
“No one is saying it’s perfect or complete but that’s not the point...that’s not what the legislative process is all about,” Newsom said of the bill. “It’s a question about leadership it’s a question of commitment. It’s a question of resolve.”
Newsom’s support for the universal health care measure puts him at the forefront of the debate and alone among the major candidates for governor.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he agrees with Rendon that the bill could not be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown without a funding plan.
Villaraigosa, who has derided the concept of single-payer without addressing where the money will come from as “snake oil,” believes the state’s priority is to stop congressional efforts to take upwards of $20 billion from the state budget, denying healthcare to millions of people here.
State Treasurer John Chiang also did not take a position on SB 562, saying he needs more information about delivery of care, cost containment and funding.
Both Republicans running for the office, Travis Allen and John Cox oppose universal health care and support repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking with reporters after his speech to the California Nurses Association, Newsom said he wanted to underscore “the urgency of the moment,” given the threat of the Graham-Cassidy bill in Congress.
Newsom supports Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill.
“I support guaranteed, universal health access,” Newsom said plainly when asked about iterations of the bill. “I want to do it in the most cost-effective way. Right now I believe that’s single-payer.”
He added: “The biggest risk is not that we aim too high and miss, it’s that we aim too low and miss it.”
“I’ll make this crystal clear if we can’t get it done next year, you have my firm and absolute commitment as your next governor that I will lead the effort to get it done we will get universal health care in the state of California. We will make sure it happens.”