With a measure that will undoubtedly be overturned by a Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger veto, this week California State Senate approved a single payer health care system in the state. This is the second move in recent weeks by the California State Legislature to overhaul the existing state system in absence of national reform. While the reforms are without question needed for the state, the timing could have been better.
California lawmakers have not acted prior to this point because they hoped national health care reform would address the health insurance problems facing California. This was evidenced by remarks from leading Democrat Senator, Christine Kehoe (San Diego), “If it’s not to be done at the national level, let us take the lead.”
As we water down health care reform in DC, somebody has to carry the torch forward for real reform. This is the point of SB 810, to show that there is another choice, another system that we could build. If we completely drop single payer from our platform of ideas, we’ll simply see the Republicans calling some more centrist idea crazy and unamerican.
While it is true that demanding more progressive solutions may shift the legislative spectrum to the left, demanding more in the same breath as conceding political defeat is simply scoring political points. It is highly doubtful this bill would be approved by Jerry Brown, the leading Democratic Candidate for Governor. In politics timing is everything. By passing this bill now, California lawmakers have accepted defeat at a national level and have given future California governors precedent to logically vetoing future single payer legislation.