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Newsom Comes Out Swinging On Day One For Single-Payer, Immigrant Coverage

Do you want a similar health care system for your state?

by Kaiser Health News | Updated on 1.9.19

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Within hours of assuming office Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a defiant challenge to the Trump administration with sweeping plans to expand health coverage to more Californians, pushing for a single-payer system and insurance for undocumented young adult immigrants.

He also called for new state-funded subsidies to help people afford health insurance, coupled with a requirement that all Californians have health insurance. And he signed an executive order that directs state agencies to work together to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Newsom revealed his proposals on Facebook Live, following a combative inaugural speech earlier in the day in which he vowed to stand up to a “corrupt” administration in Washington and lead California along a progressive path.

“Every person should have access to quality, affordable health care,” Newsom said in his inaugural speech. “Far-away judges and politicians may try to turn back our progress. But we will never waver in our pursuit of guaranteed health care for all Californians.”

Newsom had campaigned for a single-payer system, and he said Monday that he remained committed to it. In a letter to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders, Newsom called on the federal government to allow California and other states to create a single-payer program.

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who is working with Newsom, said Congress needs to pass a bill that gives states permission to create their own health care programs and still receive federal funding.

While that request seems like a long shot in the Republican-controlled Senate, Khanna said he and other Democratic lawmakers want to start hearings in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives — in preparation for when there is a Democrat in the White House.

“Realistically, we’re looking at 2021 before this could become law,” Khanna said.

Newsom’s out-of-the-gate move on single-payer reflects a clear shift from his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who had described the ambitious proposal — which could cost an estimated $400 billion annually — as financially impossible.

Newsom’s announcement also gives momentum to advocates of single-payer both in California and nationally.

“This is a necessary first step in getting this program together,” said Stephanie Roberson, director of government relations at the California Nurses Association, a group that has been among the most outspoken advocates for single-payer in the state. “This is definitely a campaign promise that has come to fruition for us.”

As a candidate, Newsom had also backed expanding health care to young adults who are in the country illegally — a Democratic plan that died in budget negotiations last year when Brown balked at the estimated cost: $140 million for the first year.

Newsom said his budget, scheduled to be released Thursday, will set aside state funding to expand Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program for low-income people, to eligible adults up to age 26. That would make California the first state to provide full Medicaid benefits to unauthorized immigrant adults.

In 2016, California opened Medi-Cal to all kids up to age 19, regardless of their immigration status. Since then, more than 250,000 children have enrolled.

Immigration and health care advocates estimate that more than 100,000 young adults aged 19 to 25 could enroll if Newsom’s proposal is adopted by the state legislature.

“The truth is we need every single adult to be covered. That’s the best way to make sure people thrive,” said Almas Sayeed, with the California Immigrant Policy Center. “But we’re thrilled that he is picking up a part of this campaign — and this early on.”

Immigrants in the country illegally make up almost 60 percent of California’s roughly 3 million uninsured residents.

Newsom also wants California to become the first state to offer subsidies to middle-class families who struggle to buy health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, people who earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level — about $48,500 a year for an individual or about $100,000 for a family of four — don’t qualify for federal financial assistance to help them purchase their own policies. Newsom’s plan would provide state subsidies to individuals earning up to $72,840 and families of four earning up to $150,600.

To pay for those subsidies, for which the new governor did not put a price tag, Newsom said he will ask the Democratic-controlled legislature to impose a health coverage requirement on Californians — and a penalty for those who don’t comply.

The federal tax penalty for uninsured people under the Affordable Care Act went away on Jan. 1, a provision of the Republican tax bill of 2017.

A state mandate to have insurance may be the most controversial piece of Newsom’s proposals, said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “There would be real concerns raised of whether coverage is affordable enough to require people to get it,” he said. “Pairing the expansion in subsidies for people in the middle class with the individual mandate may make the mandate more palatable.” (Kaiser Health News, which produces California Healthline, is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

In other moves that don’t require legislative approval, Newsom signed an executive order creating the new position of California surgeon general, who he said would promote preventive care and highlight health disparities across California.

The new governor also signed an order directing state agencies to collaborate on purchasing prescription drugs.

Currently, state agencies negotiate individually with drug companies for prisons or veterans, for example.

There are various ways the state could consolidate prescription drug purchasing, and some would require federal approval, said Erin Trish, associate director of the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. A consolidated negotiator could achieve lower prices, but that could require limiting the number of covered drugs, Trish said. “You have to be willing to exclude coverage of drugs to have meaningful bargaining leverage to change prices,” she added.

This and Newsom’s other first-day proposals underscore that California has a governor who intends to focus on health care, Trish and other policy experts said.

“This is an issue that he cares about, that California cares about, that he has experience on and strong opinions on,” she said. “This is the Newsom administration putting the stake in the ground, saying we are going to take on health care.”

Kaiser Health News

Written by Kaiser Health News

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Leave a comment
(79)
  • Miles
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Healthcare for illegals. How could you be stupid enough to think that’s a good idea? Government healthcare is a joke(Ex. the VA), especially for non-citizens. By this logic, anytime anyone from anywhere in the world wants healthcare they can just come to America & we’ll pay for it. This policy is a stellar embodiment of the idiotic radical Left

    Like (25)
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  • BlueSphere
    01/10/2019
    ···

    I’d like universal health care for all and that includes undocumented immigrants. Set your politics aside for a breath and consider what you are suggesting by refusing to provide healthcare to anyone who is not an American citizen. Would you step over an injured individual laying in the street; would you deny medical treatment to a sickly infant; are you willing to walk away and let someone take their last breath on your doorstep? Think of the real life consequences of denying healthcare to ANYONE.

    Like (15)
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  • Jeffrey
    Voted Yes
    01/10/2019
    ···

    The idea of the healthcare system to be there for citizens is a great idea on the whole except for the allowing of undocumented illegals in the state being allowed to participate. No person here illegally should get state or federal funds if they are here illegally.

    Like (8)
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  • NoHedges
    Voted Maybe
    01/10/2019
    ···

    I think the headline is very misleading and damaging. This bill is ALSO proposing healthcare for middle class young adults. something we desperately need to combat the plummeting birth rate and the opioid crisis. But, it should be a national healthcare for the documented, we should not be offering incentives to break our laws. Reform immigration, IT IS UNETHICAL to subsidize criminal behaviors. ⚠️PS On the surface, I most concerned about what looks to be a nearly 4 year old little boy with a pacifier in his mouth clutching a security blanket shown in the picture.

    Like (2)
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  • SneakyPete
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Give Me A Break Democratic California Governor Newsom California leads the Socialist leaning Democratic Political governing hierarchy in spreading the 50%-/+ American taxpayers funds to the nonpaying American and immigrants through government programs including but not limited to the following: 1). FREE Housing. 2). FREE Healthcare. 1). FREE Housing. 2). FREE Healthcare. 3). FREE Legal service. 4). FREE Sanctuary City Support. 5). FREE Social Benefits. 6). Questionable Voting Rights. When O When will,the Socialist give-away ever end? SneakyPete.......... 🤔👿🤔👿🤔. 1*10*19.........,

    Like (18)
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  • ConservativeGuy
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Pay attention, voters. You elected Socialists. Socialists take stuff away under the guise of giving stuff away.

    Like (11)
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  • Suzi
    Voted Yes
    01/10/2019
    ···

    A civilized society requires health care and education for all. That includes immigrants, legal and non.

    Like (2)
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  • RAN
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    No, illegals should get nothing, I do not want single payer, if you socialist are going to try it in different states around the country go for it, with no subsidies from the federal government! This way we can watch your crumbling state completely collapse like Venezuela, you should be given no assistance, as a matter of fact, those who choose to stay in that state for said coverage should be forced to stay there. we will need borders between states. I am in one of these said states of communist Illinois, I will be out faster than you can blink. I plan to leave anyways. just would like to have a plan, I certainly don’t need one. Build the wall!

    Like (14)
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  • jayar
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    And if CA is looking to reward illegals instead of deporting them then it doesn't need ANY federal money, i.e. taxpayer dollars.

    Like (13)
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  • Leon
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    The People should not have to fund illegal activities. We already have enough of this in Congress.

    Like (13)
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  • Al
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Newsom just trying to get benefits for his vineyard workers on the states dime! AND YOU VOTED FOR HIM! A slimy crook!

    Like (11)
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  • David
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    This democrat scheme’s ultimate purpose is total destruction of a society in order for those in power to gain more power and control. This will only happen in a liberal progressive secular government put in power by ignorant voters.

    Like (10)
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  • Poli.Sci
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    You cannot expect a strong immigration system when you offer healthcare to illegal immigrants. California is a socialist dream world and it continues to produce jokes for their policies. I also believe a state cannot offer sanctuary or healthcare to an illegal immigrant for that is imposing domestic policy on a foreign policy issue, which is strictly prohibited for the states by the National government. California is wishing to throw money all around for their citizens but refuse to offer plausible solutions to their wildfires and continually asks for more funds to combat them through the Federal government. What a joke.

    Like (9)
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  • Terry
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Govt. controlled Healthcare ? NO

    Like (9)
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  • byron
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    President Gerald Ford stated in Rock Hill, SC, October 19, 1974: "What they don't tell us when they propose all these benefits that they are going to give you from our Government ... that a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have."

    Like (9)
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  • Caren
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    No absolutely not!! There should be absolutely NO healthcare coverage for immigrants. Our responsibility should be to the elderly, disabled, and low income of this country. That said, I don’t advocate for socialized healthcare, but for healthcare and insurance to be affordable and the powers that be to no longer get rich off hardworking people. It’s one thing to make a good living but quite another to intentionally devastate others financially and have them at your mercy. That is the definition of reprobated individuals and smells of a Democrat!

    Like (7)
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  • JTJ
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    He is already begging for money to pay for his wildfires? Who is going to pay for this? He’s an idiot, and a criminal.

    Like (7)
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  • Amy
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Heck no! That is why I left CA and moved to NV.

    Like (7)
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  • Michael
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    I do not support California single pay system.

    Like (6)
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  • Ronald
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Anyone who wants this would be someone who is totally uninformed, possibly ignorant, has no clue of what socialism, communism is and does to our freedom!!

    Like (6)
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  • Pamela
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    We pay too much in taxes in NJ already. Where is the money coming from. We need to take care of citizens first

    Like (5)
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  • Mary
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    I do not want any of the money I make and am forced to have taken out of my paycheck to go to the funding of healthcare for non citizens, period. I want to support my family. NON-Citizens =no free government healthcare. Take care of CITIZENS.

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