Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rebellion in the States. Is Single-Payer Healthcare Coming to California?


The rebellion against Trump-led capitalism is just getting started. Could the Obama presidency have brought out this many people to oppose the bipartisan predatory consensus? (source; click to enlarge)

by Gaius Publius

One of the few blessings of the dawn of the Age of Trump (not being sarcastic; "Age of Trump" will turn out to be a turning point in U.S. political history) — one of those few blessings will prove to be the rebellion of the states (or the "Rebellion of the States" if things really get going). Again, not being sarcastic.

In addition to the "rolling civil war" among the people the Trump-led Republicans will enflame and enable, we should see a breakaway from the national government and its toxic rule (literally) by those states with the guts or muscle to do it.

(Side note: As I write this, three hundred marchers just walked past my window, some carrying union signs — the Musicians' Union was represented — chanting "Power to the people. Down with Trump" in a #NotMyPresidentsDay march. "Down with Trump" has a Nixonian directness to it, and we're just a month in. The GOP plan to destroy the last remnant of the social contract in the U.S. will be relentlessly pursued, in my opinion, with predictable and disastrous consequences for everyone. Batten down.)

The rebellion will be joined on many fronts — some, like the courts, more orderly than others, like whatever will happen after Beauregard Sessions-issued testosterone shots are administered to police at the next BLM rally. One of those fronts will be the reaction of state governments, which are even now starting to break away from national, federal policy.

Enter California and SB 562.

Defying the Bipartisan Predatory Consensus

If the federal government is now going to even stop pretending to protect us from the bipartisan predatory regime — for example, how else would you describe the health care system in the U.S.? — the states, some of them anyway, will increasingly step in. California has stepped in with the introduction of SB 562, a bill that aims to enact state-wide single-payer health care. Where Vermont failed (I think for lack of size of population), California may well succeed.

Some of the particulars, from a useful California civic website called Call Your Government:
SB 562 – Single payer healthcare for California
The Basics
  • California state Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins have introduced a bill, SB 562, which aims to establish a single-payer healthcare system covering all California residents.
  • Full text of the bill is here. It’s sponsored by the California Nurses Association, and the bill as written is not yet complete. Lara and Atkins intend to make changes in the coming months, and I imagine input from constituents and other legislators will be a big part of that.
Who to call
  • Your state legislators. Normally, I would specify your senators specifically, as that’s the house to which this bill has been introduced, but this is such a far-reaching effort, it seems appropriate to call your assemblymembers as well and offer your thoughts. The bill should head next to the Senate’s health and appropriations committees.
News coverage

It’s rare that I get an email press release that feels like actual news. Usually, it’s legislators and lobbyists trying to draw my attention to a photo op or their opinion on something newsworthy, but it’s seldom that the content of the release is in and of itself newsworthy. When I opened this one, I can’t say I was entirely surprised, but it is a doozy: Senators Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins have introduced legislation to create a single-payer healthcare system in California. [...]
My suspicion is that the presence of Trump in the White House and Paul Ryan's wolves at the door of everyone without the money to finance a political campaign will make this bill quite attractive — even against the inevitable onslaught of "don't you dare" advertising by the drug and insurance industries.

As the writer notes, the country is indeed "bracing itself" — in my view for a great many unpleasant things. Could the Ryan-Trump Plan, whatever it turns out to be, turn out to be the spur that turns the ACA into single-payer, state by state? The writer continues (my emphasis below):
It’s not just the political muscle that progressives are flexing but also the timing that makes this bill newsworthy. With Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, the country is bracing itself for the gutting or likely repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. State legislators in California have promised to shield the state from such a rollback, as its effect would be most significant in the union’s most populous state where lawmakers have leaned into the ACA, engaging in policies like the optional Medicaid expansion and creating a robust healthcare market known as Covered California.

Last year, MediCal, the state’s Medicaid program, celebrated its 50th anniversary, and I attended a panel on it in Sacramento. The general feeling among most of the folks I interviewed was that California is a leader in areas like healthcare. California isn’t the first state to try this, but most efforts have failed due to a lack of public support. Vermont was the only state that ever got to implementation of such a program but discontinued it in 2014.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. In the past, the political cost of such a system has been too steep for American politicians to pursue (consider the political capital President Obama spent to pass the modest reforms of the ACA), but Californian progressives seem ready for a fight. The state voted overwhelmingly against Trump and has largely been seen as a bastion of resistance to his policies, having hired former Attorney General Eric Holder in anticipation of legal fights with the administration.
The writer notes, correctly in my view, that a Ryan-Trump assault on the health care system, coupled with the Trumpian assault on every other thread in this loosely stitched-together society, will stiffen many spines among progressives. Note the reference to Obama in the final paragraph above.

Note also the reference to Holder in the final paragraph above. Let's hope Mr. Holder doesn't make this act of resistance less bold than it's otherwise likely to be. After all, if something like this isn't successfully done, people are going to die. This is not academic.

Facing the Fire With a Gale-Force Wind at Our Back

Stay tuned. These are indeed world-historical times, and things are just starting to heat up. We have four years of this ahead of us. We may be looking into a raging fire, but a gale-force popular wind is building behind us. Exactly where you want a fire-facing wind to be.


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At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been waiting for a state with some balls to take this step. It's doable for even small states as long as they are willing to cut out insurance companies altogether.

Look, individual Medicare taxes plus whatever business spends on their shittier than ever plans plus a modest tax would pay for it. Federal Medicare will take some of the burden until Ryan nukes it. And the state would negotiate with those vampire squid Rx companies on bulk pricing or they could ship it down from BC. It's doable.

What would make this even easier? Team up with Oregon and Washington and any other state that wants to secede from the DC/NY vampire squid cabal of corporations and billionaires for even bigger market leverage.

Question is: will they wait until people start being killed or will someone spend some political capital before the corpses start stacking up? Can't depend on DC to notice stacks of corpses. That's clearly what they're going for here.

GP, if you have any "in" with CA, OR or WA, maybe you could give a little whisper.

Telling isn't it that holder and obamanation are mentioned in the context above. When will people believe that both were disastrous.

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"consider the political capital President Obama spent to pass the modest reforms of the ACA"

WTF?! He spent no capital. He put the lobbies in charge of writing it and sen. Baucus to pretend to lead the charade (Baucus was schtupping the lead lobbyist who wrote it). Obamanation vowed ahead of the charade that there would be no PO and all efforts by uncooperative Ds to add it in were spiked by Baucus/reid and Pelosi/hoyer.

No capital. Just another capitulation to the money under the pretense of altruism.

And I call forcing insurance companies to profit from an extra 30 million victims with zero pricing controls bigger than "modest"... just not in the way the author meant.


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