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'Medicare for all' bill advances in state Senate

January 19, 2012 | 11:30 am

Legislation setting the framework for a universal healthcare system in California was approved by a committee Thursday and sent to the Senate floor, but even some Democratic supporters have voiced skepticism that such a system will be available anytime soon.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the California Universal Health Care Act by a 6-2 vote. Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said his SB 810, also known as the "Medicare for all" bill, is necessary to provide Californians access to affordable medical care.

“California is being overrun by out-of-control healthcare costs, which have a significant impact on families, businesses and the state budget,” Leno said. "By guaranteeing universal access for all Californians, our single-payer plan will reduce the healthcare burdens that are hurting families and our state’s economy.”

A legislative analysis said the bill could cost the state general fund up to $250 billion annually, but Leno said  costs will go down as the state eliminates private insurance companies as middlemen and negotiates prices directly with healthcare providers.

Similar bills have been vetoed or stalled in the Legislature in recent years, and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) noted this week that Leno’s bill does not have the financing to pay for the proposed healthcare system.

RELATED:

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--Patrick McGreevy, reporting from Sacramento

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