Calif. lawmakers again kill government-run public healthcare proposal

Facing a deficit that is projected to span tens of millions of dollars in the coming years, California lawmakers decided to not move ahead with CalCare.

California’s latest attempt at universal, taxpayer-backed healthcare was killed in the legislature on Thursday. 

The Assembly Appropriations Committee held the Guaranteed Health Care for All bill, preventing it from moving to the Assembly floor for a vote. 


The big picture: Assembly Bill 2200 was authored by Asm. Ash Kalra (D–San Jose) and had widespread support from Democrats when it was introduced in February. 

  • It would have established the framework for the California Guaranteed Health Care for All program, known as CalCare. 
  • CalCare would be a single-payer healthcare coverage system for all Californians. 

The backstory: This was the sixth time since 2007 where a single-payer healthcare bill failed to become law. 

  • Kalra made the latest attempt in the 2021-2022 Legislative Session, but that bill died on the third reading. 
  • The only bill to even make it to the governor’s desk was Senate Bill 840 in the 2007-2008 Legislative Session. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill at the time because it would have caused annual shortfalls of $42 billion. 

Driving the news: While the bill had support among Democrats, California’s looming budget deficit did not do it any favors. 

  • The Legislature did not have a cost estimate for this version of the bill, but Kalra’s last attempt had an estimated price tag between $494 billion and $552 billion. 

What they’re saying: “I am deeply disappointed the Assembly Appropriations Committee failed to recognize the significant cost-saving potential of AB 2200,” Kalra said in a statement. “Study after study has shown that a single-payer system will not only cost less than our current system, but can safeguard the State from future deficits while stimulating economic growth.” 

  • Kalra said he had two years of productive meetings with fellow legislators and was confident it would have passed on the Assembly floor. 
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