The bill now goes to the state Assembly. There, the state Assembly will need to finalize the bill to add more specifics about the proposed single-payer system and how the state would fund it. The current bill doesn’t give that level of specifics.
Bill supporters said the Senate approved the incomplete bill because it would have died if not approved by June 2.
Single-payer activists trumpeted the bill’s passage, but there are still many unknowns. Namely, questions remain about how a single-payer system in California would affect the economy, taxes and the healthcare system.
Another issue is its price tag. The California Senate Appropriations Committee recently released a report that estimated changing to a single-payer system would cost $400 billion annually.
The report said existing programs could fund half of that price tag, but the state would need to figure out a way to pay for the other half. This would likely mean tax increases.
The Senate committee said a payroll tax to fund the program would increase taxes by 15 percentage points though the program’s new tax revenues would be largely offset by “reduced spending on healthcare coverage by employers and employees.” The Senate committee said there are also “numerous uncertainties” about how a new system would affect enrollees, providers, employers and the state.
There has been some recent support for a single-payer system and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a private meeting with employees that the country should debate implementing a single-payer system.
However, no state has gone through with the system. In November, Colorado voted against a single-payer plan because of concerns about disruption to the healthcare system.