Historic health care expansion comes to the forefront of California

California Democrats will debate significant expansions of health care coverage for low-income residents, while state-elected officials begin negotiations on a record budget driven by the stock market boom and federal funding for coronavirus.

Ia budget presentation Monday, Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomEquilibrium / Sustainability – NASA hires climate scientist for new key role Stacey Abrams’ shocking snippet of Biden, Harris signals possible 2024 hopes Historic healthcare expansion to take on California MORE (D) said he would propose spending about $ 2.2 billion annually on expanding Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover millions of uninsured residents. Newsom’s proposal will extend coverage to all residents, regardless of immigration status, starting in January 2024.

“California is poised to become, if this proposal is supported, the first state in the country to gain universal access to health care,” Newsom told reporters in Sacramento. “We said we would do it. We said it would take a few years. We are committed to doing it.”

But lawmakers have their own priorities, and the state legislature will hold its own hearings Tuesday on a more ambitious proposal to create a first-in-nation single-payer health system.

The package, which is due to be presented to the assembly’s health committee on Tuesday, includes a new tax on companies that are to fund the single-payer system. An earlier version of the proposal, presented in 2017, would have cost an estimated $ 400 billion.

“I continue to feel the frustration, desperation and frankly the anger that many Californians are experiencing in their efforts to access quality and affordable health care,” said Assemblyman Jim Wood (D), chairman of the Health Committee, in a statement. last. week. “Single-pay healthcare can be the catalyst for change.”

The debate over how far to push for reform pits two of California’s most powerful interest groups against each other. California Nurses United, a progressive union that supported Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders President Biden blames everyone else for rising inflation. Historic health care expansion comes to a head in California America is less secure with an isolationist foreign policy MORE (I-Vt.) During the presidential contests in 2016 and 2020, backs the single-payer proposal.

The Danish Medical Association, doctors and hospital groups are on the other side.

“It’s long overdue to ensure that all Californians can get the care they need, when and where they need it, without risking massive medical debt or sacrificing other necessities like food or housing,” Carmen said. Comsti, the leading regulatory policy specialist at the Nurse’s Association. “This is a priority for our state.”

In its own statement, the California Medical Association praised Newsom’s proposal to extend coverage to the undocumented.

“By positioning California to be the first state in the nation to fully realize universal access to health care and coverage, Governor Newsom’s bold and balanced budget will strengthen our health care system and protect patients,” said Robert Wailes, the association’s president.

“As we enter the third year of the pandemic and face the nationwide increase in the Omicron variant, we must ensure that our health systems have the necessary support to provide care to all Californians, and we appreciate that the Governor provides specific investment in healthcare and increased funding for vaccines, testing and booster shots. “

About 3.2 million Californians are uninsured this year, representing 9.5 percent of the population, according to a study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center. Nearly two-thirds of the state’s undocumented residents, or about 1.3 million people under the age of 65, are uninsured, the report said.

The expansion proposed by Newsom would cover an estimated 700,000 people who are currently uninsured.

Newsom won the office in 2018 on a pledge to support a single-payer health system, but he has since backed more gradual changes.

In 2016, under Newsom’s predecessor, Governor Jerry Brown (D), legislator Medi-Cal extended entitlement to undocumented children and seniors. In 2020, the legislature again expanded the program to cover those up to 26 years of age, and in 2021, they expanded access to low-income residents over 50 years of age.

Newsom said Monday that he had not yet reviewed the legislature’s proposal to set up and pay for the single-payer system.

The proposal was an element of a 300-page, $ 286.4 billion budget that Newsom had outlined during a three-hour presentation Monday. If passed as proposed, California’s budget would grow by 9.1 percent over last year; the state has estimated that it will have a profit of $ 45.7 billion, the ninth year in a row the budget will have ended in black and an unprecedented growth following the depth of the recession in 2008, when Brown was forced to cut more than $ 26 billion from existing spending.

Newsom’s budget also includes a plan to make California the first state to manufacture its own supply of insulin to reduce the cost to diabetics.

Newsom called on lawmakers to set aside an additional $ 2.7 billion to expand coronavirus testing, vaccines and boosters and to help hospitals and healthcare systems bear the burden of overtaxed staff who have spent two years fighting the pandemic.

It would set aside $ 2 billion to fight California’s homelessness crisis, $ 2 billion in new subsidies and tax deductions for affordable housing and new funding for child care and support for small businesses. Newsom has also proposed spending $ 255 million on subsidies to local law enforcement agencies to create new units aimed at stopping robberies following a series of high-profile incidents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles where organized mobs have overwhelmed stores and stolen goods.

The initial budget document marks the starting point for the negotiations between Newsom and the legislators, which will elaborate on the details over the next many months. Democrats control the super-majority in both the state legislature and the state senate.

“Senate budget priority is to put California’s wealth at work for those who need it most – middle-class families and those struggling to make ends meet,” Senate President Toni Atkins (D) said in a statement Monday. “The governor’s initial budget proposal is in line with that goal, and we are already working to ensure that the final budget for 2022-23 will meet the president’s needs, build for the future and reflect past experiences.”

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