Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) traveled to Beverly Hills to grovel at the feet of the California Legislature and beg them to pass Senate Bill 562, which would create a publicly-funded universal health care system throughout the state and legitimize Sanders’ efforts to bring about a similar piece of legislation on the national stage.
“Please lead the country and pass the single-payer bill,” Sanders said during his acceptance speech for an award from the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog. “Please make my life easier. The great state of California can send a message that will be heard all over this country, and all over the world if you pass single-payer here.”
SB 562, which has been dubbed the “Healthy California Act,” vows “to guarantee that every resident of California will receive comprehensive healthcare services. It’s like Medicare for All.” So far, the bill has passed through the Senate Health Committee and faces several more hurdles in the State Senate before it can be put to a final vote.
Among the most vocal proponents of the bill has been California’s sizable progressive population, including the powerful nurse’s union that emerged as one of Sanders’ most fervent supporters during his primary challenge against Hillary Clinton.
However, SB 562 has failed to gain traction among many of the state’s leading Democrats such as Gov. Jerry Brown, who has suggested that this is not the right time for a single-payer system in California and has voiced concerns about funding the bill.
“Where do you get the extra money? This is the whole question,” Brown said during an interview in March, noting that the overall cost of healthcare in California comes out to $450 billion, which is about 18 percent of the state’s GDP.
“You take a problem and say I’m going to solve it by something that’s even a bigger problem, which makes no sense,” he concluded.