California is still in the throes of the pandemic, with our healthcare system working overtime to serve patients. But even as California residents, businesses and healthcare workers struggle to stay afloat, Capitol Democrats are rushing with a complete takeover of our healthcare system.
Their proposal, Assembly Bill 1400, introduced by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San Jose, will force all Californians into an unprecedented state curriculum administered by irresponsible bureaucrats.
Democrats have pushed government-run health care before without success — in part because of the astronomical price tag. Estimates then set the cost at $330 billion to $400 billion per year. For perspective, Governor Gavin Newsom’s entire budget proposal this year is $286 billion.
So how are we going to pay for their proposal this time around?
Details are still hazy, but there are two main revenue streams Democrats are considering — tapping into federal health care payments, which would include Medicare, and massive tax increases.
The proposal would require California to seek waivers to redirect federal health care spending to the state-run plan. This means that beneficiaries of federal programs such as Medicare would have their funding used to provide services to everyone in California, even those who have never paid into the system.
The Democrats’ funding bill, House Constitutional Amendment 11, is expected to raise taxes by $163 billion, including tax hikes on small businesses and middle-class workers. And because ACA 11 creates an exemption from the requirement of Prop. 13 that new taxes must pass with a two-thirds vote in the Legislature, if this new regime runs out of money, Democrats will have a blank check to raise taxes with a simple majority vote.
Californians are already grappling with the cost of living here — the state ranks among the highest in the nation — and new middle-class taxes will push even more families out of state, leaving fewer taxpayers to fund our ever-growing list of programs. .
For those left behind, this program will force all Californians to be covered by substandard government coverage. That means there’s no more private insurance, no matter how much you like your plan. You’ll also likely see rationed care and longer wait times for specialist care – just like in other countries with socialized medicine, like Canada and the UK.
For an overview of how the Democrats’ plan would work, we can check out the existing insurance plan run by the state government – Medi-Cal. The program is supposed to cater for low-income residents, but it’s so poorly run it’s nearly impossible to get an appointment. Chronic underfunding means few doctors are willing to participate, forcing many patients to use the emergency room for routine care.
Finally, should we really entrust our health care system to state bureaucrats? Almost every major project California has attempted has been a disaster – high-speed rail has tripled in cost and is a decade behind schedule. Upgrading our billion-dollar accounting system put the state’s credit rating at risk. The Department of Employment Development handed out billions to fraudsters while needy Californians waited months. And don’t get me started on the DMV.
Despite this long list of failures, Democrats would have you believe that a government takeover of more than 10% of the state’s economy will go off without a hitch.
If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.
We need less government in health care – not more. Instead, let’s liberate the free market, reduce overbearing regulations, cut costs, and insist on transparency and accountability for better patient outcomes.
Californians depend on their health care, and if there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s that the current system needs to be fixed. But the Democrats’ plan to eliminate competition and put government in the driver’s seat is not the answer. Especially in the midst of a pandemic and an accessibility crisis, we cannot afford an expensive experiment in government control.
Marie Waldron, a Republican from Escondido, represents Assembly District 75. She is the Republican leader of the Assembly. Waldron is a member of the Assembly Health Committee and Select Committees on Access to Health Care in Rural Communities, Biotechnology, and Infectious Diseases. She wrote this comment for CalMatters.