California Dems fail in attempt to create statewide universal healthcare system

Democrat lawmakers in California failed this week in their attempt to summon sufficient votes for a bill that would have established a system of universal healthcare across the Golden State, as The Hill reports.

Had the measure achieved passage, it would have created the only government-funded healthcare system of its kind anywhere in the nation, but enough support could not be marshaled ahead of a midnight Monday deadline.

Many had thought that the bill had a strong chance of success, particularly given that the Democrats only required 41 votes, and they currently control 56 out of 80 state Assembly seats, and the party itself had long championed the concept of universal healthcare, as the Associated Press noted.

State lawmaker Ash Kalra, the bill’s author, did not call for a vote on the measure once the reality of the situation presented itself, telling the Associated Press, “It became clear that we did not have the votes necessary for passage.”

Kalra continued, “Although the bill did not pass the Assembly by today’s deadline, this is only a pause for the single-payer movement; our coalition, including the mighty California Nurses Association, will continue the fight for accessible, affordable, and equitable healthcare for all Californians.”

Notably, as The Hill explained, the measure itself did not touch on the actual cost of instituting universal healthcare in the state, and though prior studies cited in support of it suggested that such an endeavor would have a price tag of roughly $350 billion, the state is already on a trajectory to spend more than $500 billion in costs this year alone.

According to the AP, the bill faced notable opposition from business groups including the California Chamber of Commerce, the president of which had earlier opined, “It is not a time to experiment with a brand new, state-run bureaucracy funded by unsustainable taxes placed on employers trying to survive a pandemic.”

Though the bill is almost certainly at a dead end for the current legislative term, any attempt by Kalra to revive it in the future will occur in the context of an Assembly that has seen an influx of new members due to term limit-induced turnover.

Not surprisingly, California conservatives view this outcome with tremendous relief, not to mention a dose of incredulity, with Assembly GOP Leader Marie Waldron aptly declaring, “The fact that a proposal for a government takeover of our state’s entire health care system even made it this far shows just how out of touch the Democratic party is from the needs of everyday Californians.