Every once in while I like to comment on non-transit issues on this blog. In this case, I'd like to take on health care in California.
One of the components of the Affordable Health Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") that people are missing is how much latitude each state has in implementing it. During the development of this legislation advocates for a national single-payer system (a.k.a. "Medicare-for-All") were not even allowed to come to the table to make their case. Even the compromise position, giving everyone access to a public health insurance option, tragically couldn't get past a Senate filibuster.
However, thanks to this legislation, individual states can follow Vermont's example and pursue single-payer health care or at least place public health insurance plans on their state's coming health insurance exchanges as a state "public option".
Now I still from a policy standpoint prefer Medicare-for-All or single-payer health care. Twice single-payer health care has passed the California state legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Now that there is a Democratic Governor who would be expected to be favorable to the legislation, SB810 is unfortunately stalled in the legislature thanks to insurance industry lobbying.
Several California counties have public health plans already, and California is likely to even have a choice of public health insurance plans as progressive counties like San Francisco and Alameada are looking to putting their public plans on the statewide exchange.
Read this Article: The Public Option is Alive and Well in California
The good news for health insurance reform activists, is that it looks as if in California we will at least have one or more public options on our state's coming health insurance exchange. Even if "Obamacare" is struck down by the Supreme Court, the California state legislation creating a state health insurance exchange still stands.
The question now becomes, are county plans on the statewide exchange accountable to county Boards of Supervisors the best way to give access to public health insurance options? Should a statewide public plan accountable to the Governor and the Legislature be include on the state exchange? Could Medical be turned into a statewide public option open to everyone?
Watch this space for news about this issue unfolds over the next two years.