I recently reported that California Senate Bill 562, which would establish a single payer healthcare system within the state, had recently cleared a major hurdle by passing through a state legislative committee.

However, the measure died upon entering the California Assembly.

A high-profile effort to establish a single-payer healthcare system in California sputtered Friday when Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) decided to shelve the proposal.

Rendon announced late Friday afternoon that the bill, Senate Bill 562 by state Sens. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would not advance to a policy hearing in his house, making it all but certain the measure will not be acted upon this year.

“SB 562 was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete,” Rendon said in a statement. “Even senators who voted for SB 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation.”

Of course, not everyone was happy about that development:

Leaders of the California Nurses Association were livid, calling the timing of the announcement “cowardly” and Rendon’s message “disingenuous.”

“Whose interest is he acting on behalf of if not the insurance industry and those who oppose having guaranteed health care?” asked Chuck Idelson, a spokesman for the association. “It’s really quite stunning.”

But another strong supporter of the bill, Laphonza Butler, president of the Service Employees International Union of California, offered a less harsh assessment. She said in a statement Friday that the bill “has opened up a crucial conversation about how California should proceed in the face of these federal attacks on our health care.”

Governor Brown chimed in, agreeing that the measure was “woefully incomplete”.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who had signaled wariness about the proposal’s costs, said in a statement that Rendon “made the case that there’s clearly more work to do before anyone is in a position to vote on revamping California’s healthcare system.”

“I recognize the tremendous excitement behind the measure, but basic and fundamental questions remain unanswered,” Brown said.

A clue to how bad the measure was may be had in the rather public way this bill met its end, at the hands of the state’s Assembly Speaker.

“I think the surprise is that he didn’t kill it quietly through the suspense process,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego, referring to the “suspense file” where appropriations committees often place costly bills and decide their fate all at once. “That’s where expensive bills go to die without anyone having to take a public stand against them.”

While I hope that California single payer is completely dead, I am almost certain it will be resurrected again…especially if the GOP bill passes. My home state’s politicians are nothing if not consistent about defying the current President.


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