California · Health

Arambula warns lawmakers to pump brakes on single-payer healthcare bid

As California ponders two routes to increasing taxpayer-funded health care in 2022, a major proponent of increased access warned that some proposals may require greater debate and discussion before moving forward.

Asm. Joaquin Arambula (D–Fresno), a major proponent of universal health care, cautioned that the state’s rush to put a single-payer system before voters could be premature.

Arambula made the comments while appearing on a Fresno-based Sunday morning political program.

Before lawmakers are two proposals. The first, developed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would expand Medi-Cal access to virtually all illegal immigrants residing in the Golden State.

The other, proposed under Assembly Bill 1400, would create a brand-new, $163 billion single-payer health care system called “Cal Care.”

California voters would still need to sign off on the massive, government-run health system via an initiative.

Facing a do-or-die vote in the Assembly Health Committee, Arambula voted in favor of the measure to move it on for consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Sunday, he said that the proposal still requires considerable work.

“I think the governor has been pretty clear about his position, that there is an inevitability for us to have these conversations, but that we must take a much more pragmatic approach to achieve universal access to health care and believe that that the steps he has taken over the last couple of years, as well as what is funded and budgeted within this Governor’s January budget, are important.”

Asked if he was supportive of a health care system that “would eliminate private health care,” Arambula said there are key hurdles to reaching that point.

“I think the discussion needs to be had,” he said. “But there’s much more work to be done to answer the tough, thorny questions about financing and what occurs to people who already have health insurance and have been paying their premiums.”

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.