California lawmakers will hold hearings on universal healthcare during the Legislature's year-end recess.
Speaker Anthony Rendon announced the plans Thursday after enduring weeks of backlash from members of his own party for a healthcare bill passed by the Senate.
That bill would have eliminated insurance companies in California and implemented a government-run healthcare system, known as a single-payer system. Rendon says he supports universal healthcare but couldn't move the Senate bill forward because it lacked key details about how the system would function and how it would be funded.
"I don't think we've at all had anything close to approaching an honest discussion about single payer," he said. "This is an attempt to have a serious discussion."
Rendon says a select committee headed by two members of the Assembly who are physicians will explore options for universal healthcare in the state.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, who authored the Senate legislation, praised Rendon for the announcement.
"I am glad the Assembly is joining the conversation about universal healthcare that started in the Senate this year," Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat, said in a statement.
The California Nurses Association has harshly criticized Rendon over his decision to shelve Lara's bill. They said the Assembly should hold hearings on the existing bill instead.
"California does not need a Select Committee to hold hearings to develop a plan for achieving universal healthcare," Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement.