California’s state-run health plan would be a costly disaster

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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 effectively force all Californians into a groundbreaking state curriculum administered by irresponsible bureaucrats.

Democrats have pushed government-run health care forward without success – partly because of the astronomical price. Estimates then set the cost at $330 billion to $400 billion per year. For perspective, Governor Gavin Newsom the entire budget proposal this year is $286 billion.

So how are we going to pay for their proposal this time around?

The details are still hazy, but there are two main sources of income Democrats are eyeing: dipping 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, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11, is estimated at raise taxes by $163 billion, including tax hikes for 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 will probably also see rationed care and longer waiting times for specialist care, as in other countries with socialized medicine, such as Canada and the United Kingdom

For an overview of how the Democrats’ plan would work, we can check out the existing state government-run insurance plan, Medi-Cal. The program is supposed to cater for low-income residents, but it’s so poorly managed that it is almost 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 attempted by California has been a disaster. High speed railroad has tripled in cost and is a decade behind schedule. Our billion dollar accounting system upgrade jeopardized the state’s credit rating. the Department of Employment Development gave billions to fraudsters while Californians in need waited months. And don’t get me started on the DVM.

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 of Escondido represents Assembly District 75 and is the Republican Leader of the Assembly. She is a member of the Health Committee and ad hoc committees on Access to Health Care in Rural Communities, Biotechnology and Infectious Diseases.

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