California legislators are again considering a bill that would create a state-run, single-payer system and extend health coverage to the state's 6.3 million uninsured. The bill, reintroduced by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, passed the Senate Finance and Insurance Committee 7-4 and is now before the Health Committee.
The state Senate passed a scaled-down version of the bill in 2003, but it ultimately was overshadowed by legislation requiring employers to provide health insurance for workers and their families. That employer mandate, SB 2, was signed into law in December 2003 but invalidated through a voter referendum a year later.
A study by the Lewin Group projected Kuehl's legislation would save California $343.6 billion over 10 years by cutting administrative costs and using bulk purchasing of drugs and medical supplies. Opponents argue that the government-run system would only add to costs by creating a bigger bureaucracy and reducing competition.