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Democratic leadership kills vital healthcare bill as California budget plunges into chaos: “Very expensive endeavor”

In contrast to Texas, a state renowned for its robust economy and limitless opportunities, California grapples with a substantial budget deficit, the consequences of which remain uncertain and yet to be seen. California lawmakers started to work on budget cuts earlier this year, soon after the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that California is on the verge of facing a budget deficit of more than $70 billion. Last week, Gov. Newsom presented the final version of the state budget in an announcement that confirmed what many already feared: huge budget cuts.

Attempt to save the state’s economy

According to our previous report, Gov. Newsom’s announcement of the most recent version of the budget looked more like a “desperate attempt for California’s survival.” Not only that, many widely-used tax deductions were eliminated, but state lawmakers, especially those who were working on the budget directly, had to kill many of Newsom’s very own proposed laws that will not see the light of day anytime soon. The new reality for millions of Californians comes at a time when the state grapples with several other serious crises, like the issue of illegal immigration at the southern border and the house insurance crisis.

The concerns

Despite facing huge economic challenges lately, the Democratic leadership in the Golden State is not chaining its course when it comes to illegal immigrants. Most of the funding for migrants and covering their basic needs will remain untouched, at least for one more year. Some of these decisions are starting to have an impact on Newsom’s public image, as a growing number of parents recently say that the quality of education in California is declining and blame Newsom for the issue.

Vital healthcare bill killed

The most recent effort to introduce a single-payer healthcare system in California under Assembly Bill 2200, also known as CalCare, was unsuccessful in the state Legislature last Thursday. The bill, which aimed to establish a universal healthcare system covering all California residents, was halted by the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to concerns about its high cost amid California’s ongoing budget crisis. Assemblymember Ash Kalra expressed his deep disappointment over the early termination of the bill.

“I looked forward to presenting the bill on the Assembly Floor and was confident it would pass,” Kalra said in a statement. “Losing the opportunity to advance the bill this year means further unnecessary delays in healthcare reform, allowing needless suffering and economic injustice to continue harming Californians.”

“We have an obligation to balance the budget in California,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, chair of the committee. “There were some tough choices to make.”

The most recent effort to introduce a single-payer healthcare system in California (CalCare) was unsuccessful due to massive budget deficit
Credit: Unsplash

Financially impossible

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, who previously co-authored a similar bill, highlighted the need for lawmakers to consider the financial implications of such an ambitious plan. The proposed CalCare system was expected to cost the state about $392 billion per year, while California currently faces a budget deficit of $45 billion. Despite the setback, Kalra mentioned that a single-payer system could potentially lead to significant cost savings in the future.

“I’m a big believer. But at the end of the day it’s a very expensive endeavor, one that is worthwhile that we should continue, as the years go on, to try to implement,” she said. “But it was a difficult choice to make because of the current budget environment that we’re in.”

Reaction from nurses

Members of the California Nurses Association criticized the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee for yielding to corporate healthcare interests and not passing Assembly Bill 2200.

The most recent effort to introduce a single-payer healthcare system in California (CalCare) was unsuccessful due to massive budget deficit
Courtesy of California Nurses Association

“We nurses never give up on our patients,” said Cathy Kennedy, RN and president of the California Nurses Association. “We have fought for decades to ensure that health care is a human right for all of our patients, regardless of ability to pay, and we have no plans to stop now. This is our life’s work. Legislators say they support single-payer, but do not back up their words with action.”



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