June 2, 2017

LOS ANGELES TIMES EXPLAINER: What would California’s proposed single-payer healthcare system mean for me?

The framing — in an ostensibly “straight” news explainer — is telling:

Whether you’re insured through an employer, through Covered California or on public programs such as Medi-Cal, as long as you’ve established California residency — regardless of legal immigration status — you would be enrolled in a single plan, which the bill’s backers call the “Healthy California” plan. That would eliminate the need for employer-provided plans and other commercial options.

Michael Lighty, policy director for the California Nurses Assn., put it bluntly: “You’ll never have to deal with an insurance company again.”

Benefits would be generous, including all inpatient and outpatient care, dental and vision care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and prescription drugs. Patients would be able to see any healthcare provider of their choosing.

Older Californians on Medicare would also be wrapped into this plan. The plan envisions using all the existing federal dollars going toward Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries in California in the state’s single-payer model.

But there’s a hitch: The federal government — a frequent punching bag for California Democrats at the moment — would need to grant a waiver to redirect that money.

“The question is: Will the Trump administration approve such a waiver?” Kominski said.

And:

“If you’re paying for health insurance right now through healthcare premiums and cost-sharing, you’d end up paying instead through taxes,” said Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “There are some people who at the end of the day will end up paying more, others who will end up paying less.”

“Benefits would be generous.” “You’ll never have to deal with an insurance company again.” “There are some people who at the end of the day will end up paying more, others who will end up paying less.” There’s no real discussion of perverse incentives for illegal aliens and welfare cheats, the effect on the job market of a 15% payroll tax, or whether businesses could afford the proposed 2.3% tax on gross receipts.

So of course, the only real question is whether mean old President Trump would approve of such a wonderful program.

Californians are being thoroughly prepared to vote in single payer, and they just might do it.

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