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California single-payer health care bill would cost more than the state’s entire budget

A California bill that would implement a single-payer health care system in the state would cost $400 billion per year, more than the California’s "general fund and special fund spending" for the budget year starting July 1. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A California bill that would implement a statewide single-payer health insurance system would cost more than the state's entire budget, the Sacramento Bee reported.

SB562, the Healthy California Act, would replace California’s health insurance marketplace with a publicly funded system,  the Bee's reported Monday. The new system would provide health care coverage with no out-of-pocket expenses for all California residents. The California Senate Appropriations Committee found that the bill would cost $400 billion per year.

The Bee reported that the committee’s estimate “assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.”

The Senate analysis also said that the $100 billion to $150 billion employers spend on health care per year could be used to help offset the costs, but that would still leave taxpayers on the hook for an additional $50 billion to $100 billion per year.

Meanwhile, the estimate is higher than the total $180 billion proposed for the state’s “general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1.”

The bill would also provide free coverage for illegal immigrants, ABC News reported.

The Bee called the bill proposed by Democratic state Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins a “long-shot.” But the bill's sponsors are not giving up.

“Health care spending is growing faster than the overall economy ... yet we do not have better health outcomes and we cover fewer people,” Lara said at an appropriations hearing this week. “Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiencies and the uncertainty created by Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path.”

The Bee said the bill has to pass the Senate floor by June 2 to advance to the Assembly.

Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen said during the appropriations hearing that "the impact on employers I think is going to be absolutely astounding."

"How can you possibly say this is going to be fiscally prudent for the state of California, not a burden for the state?" Nielsen asked.

In a written statement, the California Chamber of Commerce called the bill a “job-killer.”

“It will cost employers and taxpayers billions of dollars and result in significant loss of jobs in the state,” the statement said.

(H/T: Reason)

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