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State Senate hits stalemate on universal healthcare for California

January 26, 2012 | 11:50 am
State lawmakers deadlocked Thursday over a controversial measure that would provide universal healthcare in California

This post has been updated. See below for details.

State lawmakers deadlocked Thursday over a controversial measure that would provide universal healthcare in California.

In a vote in which some Democrats did not participate, the measure received only 19 of the 21 votes needed for passage in the Senate, but it was put over for another possible vote next week.

[Updated, 12:55 p.m. Jan. 26: Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said later Thursday that the bill will "probably not" make it out of the Legislature by a deadline next week.

The proposed legislation is a vehicle "to raise the visibility of the issue," Steinberg said. "I don't think that there is any reasonable prospect that in the short term a 'Medicare for All' bill will be signed in the country or in California. But that doesn't mean it's not important."]

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) noted that some people have argued there is no need for state legislation because the federal government has already approved an affordable healthcare system to begin in 2014.

But Leno said states are allowed to provide greater healthcare under that system, and that California should act because the courts are considering lawsuits to overturn the federal plan.

Leno said SB 810 is needed because healthcare premiums have increased five times the rate of inflation in the last decade and 12 million Californians went without coverage during some time last year.

"Clearly, the current system is not working for businesses, for employers, for employees, for families," he said.

Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark was part of the mostly Republican bloc that opposed the measure, which he said would create a large, inefficient bureaucracy.

"Clearly, if you want the compassion of the IRS and the efficiency of the DMV doing your healthcare, this bill is for you," Strickland said during floor debate on the measure.


A radical healthcare solution

"Medicare for All'' bill advances

Amid cost concerns, legislators delay vote on universal healthcare

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), left, confers during the 2010 budget debate with Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) at the Capitol. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press