The Corner

Politics & Policy

California’s Single-Payer Healthcare Bill Isn’t Based in Reality

On Thursday, the California state Senate passed Senate Bill 562, which seeks to establish a statewide single-payer healthcare system.

Democratic senator Ricardo Lara, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, co-authored the bill and advocated its passage, but failed to explain how the proposal’s $400-billion price tag will be financed.

The bill represents a key progressive goal, and yet, it will almost certainly never be signed into law — even though Californians have elected Democratic majorities to both legislative chambers and a Democratic governor. Why not? Because it’s absurdly expensive. This year’s entire state budget is $180 billion. The single-payer system called for in 562 costs more than double that.

We don’t have the money to pay for it,” Republican state senator Tom Berryhill said. “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB 562, we wouldn’t even cover half of the $400-billion price tag.”

Proponents of Lara’s bill claim that half of the $400 billion in question would be covered by the existing healthcare funds doled out at all levels of government, and the other $200 billion would be raised through increased tax revenues.

But for even this plan to be feasible, the Trump administration would have to approve a waiver allowing California to redirect all funds from Medicare and Medi-Cal to the proposed healthcare system. This is especially unlikely, as California Democrats seek to grant illegal immigrants who reside in California the right to use the state-funded healthcare system, and the Trump administration opposes that. Moreover, California’s legislators haven’t exactly built up a rapport with the new administration. In January, Democratic legislators hired former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to represent them in lawsuits resisting the Trump administration’s political agenda.

And even if Trump were to sign the waiver, Democrats would still need to raise $200 billion through increased tax revenues, which the majority of Californians vehemently oppose. According to a report released on Wednesday by the nonpartisan thinktank Public Policy Institute of California, 56 percent of California’s likely voters approved of a single-payer healthcare system, but that support fell to 43 percent when asked if they’d support an increase in taxes to fund the system.

Which is to say that if Californians remain opposed to higher taxes — and California is one of the most taxed states in the country — then it will be difficult for legislators to sell either a 15-percent payroll tax, contemplated by the Senate Appropriations Committee, or a 2.3 percent increase in “state sales tax and business receipts taxes,” recommended by the California Nurses Association (CNA sponsored the bill).

It seems that Governor Brown is one of the only Democratic politicians in California to comprehend that a statewide single-payer healthcare system would be catastrophic. Such a proposal, Brown said, “is called ignotum per ignotius . . . In other words, you take a problem and say, ‘I’m going to solve it by something that’s even a bigger problem,’ which makes no sense.”

Austin YackAustin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Why Wasn’t Andrew McCabe Charged?

The Justice Department announced Friday that it is closing its investigation of Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s former deputy director, over his false statements to investigators probing an unauthorized leak that McCabe had orchestrated. McCabe was fired in March 2018, shortly after a blistering Justice Department ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Why Wasn’t Andrew McCabe Charged?

The Justice Department announced Friday that it is closing its investigation of Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s former deputy director, over his false statements to investigators probing an unauthorized leak that McCabe had orchestrated. McCabe was fired in March 2018, shortly after a blistering Justice Department ... Read More
Elections

The Media’s Bernie Sanders Makeover Begins

Just you watch: By the time Election Day rolls around in November, liberal columnists will be telling us that Bernie Sanders is the “real conservative” in the presidential race. Many among the center–left commentariat are struggling to come to terms with the likelihood that the Democratic Party will ... Read More
Elections

The Media’s Bernie Sanders Makeover Begins

Just you watch: By the time Election Day rolls around in November, liberal columnists will be telling us that Bernie Sanders is the “real conservative” in the presidential race. Many among the center–left commentariat are struggling to come to terms with the likelihood that the Democratic Party will ... Read More
Elections

There’s Zero Chance Bloomberg Would Pick Hillary

There’s no better evidence that Mike Bloomberg’s chances of getting the Democratic nomination are on the rise than the fact that the opportunistic Hillary Clinton is already trying to grab a piece of the action. The Drudge Report startled the political world on Saturday by noting that “sources close to ... Read More
Elections

There’s Zero Chance Bloomberg Would Pick Hillary

There’s no better evidence that Mike Bloomberg’s chances of getting the Democratic nomination are on the rise than the fact that the opportunistic Hillary Clinton is already trying to grab a piece of the action. The Drudge Report startled the political world on Saturday by noting that “sources close to ... Read More

Socialism . . . But?

For once, conservatives were ahead of the curve. American conservatism functioned as a political mass movement in the postwar era not because of the rhetorical gifts of its chief expositors (William F. Buckley Jr. et al.) nor because of the intellectual prowess of its best and most creative minds (ask George ... Read More

Socialism . . . But?

For once, conservatives were ahead of the curve. American conservatism functioned as a political mass movement in the postwar era not because of the rhetorical gifts of its chief expositors (William F. Buckley Jr. et al.) nor because of the intellectual prowess of its best and most creative minds (ask George ... Read More
Religion

Getting Real About Christianity

Charlotte, N.C. -- There were women weeping in a chapel here. One woman named Veronica was nearly inconsolable. She was talking about the crucifixion of Christ as if it was happening right then and there. She was feeling it. She was seeing it as the consequences of her sins. She was overwhelmed by the love of a ... Read More
Religion

Getting Real About Christianity

Charlotte, N.C. -- There were women weeping in a chapel here. One woman named Veronica was nearly inconsolable. She was talking about the crucifixion of Christ as if it was happening right then and there. She was feeling it. She was seeing it as the consequences of her sins. She was overwhelmed by the love of a ... Read More