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Liberal Groups Mount Push For Universal (Not Single-Payer) Healthcare In California

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Karen, a San Diego immigration activist who declined to give her last name because she is a DACA recipient, speaks at a news conference calling for universal health care in California at the state Capitol on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California isn’t moving to a single-payer health care system anytime soon. So a coalition of liberal advocacy groups is calling for policy actions this year to achieve statewide universal coverage under California’s current health care system.

Many of the groups in the coalition support single-payer but acknowledge that barriers like state costs and Trump administration approval are insurmountable in the short term.

“It’s not an either/or. We can make progress in providing real, tangible benefit for consumers today while also organizing and advocating for broader reforms,” says Anthony Wright with Health Access California. “This package is not just ambitious, but it’s attainable this year — implementable without the need for federal permissions or approval.”

The groups want to make premiums more affordable by creating state-funded subsidies on Covered California – that’s the state’s Affordable Care Act health benefit exchange.

They also back a statewide individual mandate; extending coverage to adult immigrants living in the state illegally; and a state-funded “public option” to compete with private insurers in the exchange.

Taken together, these and other actions could cost the state billions of dollars — but the groups are declining to release price tags or say how the state should find the money.

Thursday’s announcement comes two days after an Assembly committee released a report with many of the same recommendations.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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