Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom is backing single-payer health care for California, promising that if he is elected governor in the November 2018 election he will push through such a system if one is not already in place.

Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, endorsed single-payer in a speech before the California Nurses Association on Friday.

The Los Angeles Times writes:

Newsom appeared Friday before the California Nurses Assn., the most ardent backers of SB 562, a stalled bill to establish a system in which the state would cover all residents’ healthcare costs.

“There’s no reason to wait around on universal healthcare and single-payer in California,” Newsom said. “It’s time to move 562. It’s time to get it out of committee.” The line prompted cheers and a standing ovation from the audience of about 1,500 members of the nurses’ union.

He capped off his remarks with a promise: “If we can’t get it done next year, you have my firm and absolute commitment as your next governor that I will lead the effort to get it done. We will have universal healthcare in the state of California.”

The Times notes that Newsom was less clear about the specifics of the proposal when he spoke later with reporters. He said, “I one hundred percent support moving this process along, getting this debate going again and addressing the concerns, the open-ended issues that the nurses themselves have acknowledged as it relates to the need of going through the legislative process and to fill in the blanks on the financing plan, among other issues.”

The Sacramento Bee writes:

“No one is saying it’s perfect or complete, but that’s not the point … that’s not what the legislative process is all about,” Newsom said of the bill. “It’s a question about leadership. It’s a question of commitment. It’s a question of resolve.”

Newsom’s support for the universal health care measure puts him at the forefront of the debate and alone among the major candidates for governor.

The lieutenant governor has been working on the promise of statewide single-payer health care for many months. The Bee reported in March:

Newsom, seen as a strong contender in the increasingly crowded field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, is staking out an ambitious plan to rein in rising health care costs, expand universal access to people across the state regardless of income or immigration status, and preserve coverage for the estimated 5 million Californians who risk losing their insurance under President Donald Trump’s changes.

“I think we can learn a lot for the state of California from what we did with Healthy San Francisco,” Newsom said in an interview. “We had the resourcefulness, the resources, and the boldness and audacity to try something new. It’s not necessarily something that can be adopted in all 58 counties, but it can be adopted …. where the majority of California’s population is.”

The Bee writes about the Healthy San Francisco plan, backed by Newsom when he was mayor of that city from 2004 to 2011:

Healthy San Francisco, created in 2007 under a broader law known as the Health Care Security Ordinance, is a universal care system that finances health care for residents within the city’s borders. It centers on the importance of primary care and routine checkups to help control costs; mandates that employers contribute to their employees’ health care; includes a citywide public insurance option; and adopted a provision even before Obamacare that people with pre-existing conditions can’t be disqualified for coverage by insurance companies.

Newsom is working with Mitch Katz, an architect of Healthy San Francisco who today heads Los Angeles County’s health care system, to develop a detailed single-payer health care plan for the state.



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