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Universal Coverage Hearings Begin In California Assembly

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Asm. Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) sits with his wife Annie Lam in the Assembly chambers on January 11, 2016, the day he was elected speaker.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A special Assembly committee convened for the first time Monday to identify gaps in California’s health care system and discuss how to cover the state's uninsured residents.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon launched the committee in August, just two months after he shelved a major single-payer health care bill, SB562. It would have created one government insurance provider for all Californians.

The idea came up at committee hearings Monday, as did proposals that would restructure or expand the state's current patchwork of public and private insurance options. 

Committee co-chair and Democratic Assembly Member Jim Wood says that single payer and other ideas will have to be carefully scrutinized.

“When we review proposals that claim to eliminate premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and guarantee everyone all medically necessary care including hospitalization, dental, vision, mental health and long term care," says Wood. "We must be skeptical."

Sally Pipes is a health policy expert with the conservative think tank Pacific Research Institute. She says drastically expanding public health care in California will stretch the state’s budget too thin.

“The way that you deal with that is you have to ration care, you don’t have the latest equipment, and people experience long waits,” says Pipes.

Comittee hearings continue Tuesday. 

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