The city of Paramount, California is not, as I once thought, named for Paramount Pictures. One more pocket-sized enclave within the vast expanse of Los Angeles County, Paramount's main claim to fame is the headquarters of the Zamboni Company, inventors of an iconic vehicle that resurfaces the ice for your local skating rink or hockey team. And it's the home of Anthony Rendon, a Democrat representing the 63rd Assembly District and currently serving as Speaker of the Assembly, though for some reason official references to Rendon contain the tag "D-Lakewood." Maybe that's where he keeps his off-session office.

It should surprise no one that the Speaker is a Democrat: there are only twenty-seven Republicans in California, and no one knows how the GOP managed to get twenty-five of the Assembly's 80 seats. The Democrats, of course, like this distribution just fine, and weirdly, Assembly members elected before 2012 are limited by law to six years, while those elected 2012 and after are limited to twelve years, some of which may be served in the Senate. (How did the Democrats do in the last general election? They picked up three seats. Duh.) Republicans are even scarcer in the Senate: 27-13.

And it was the Senate that floated something called the Healthy California Act. Senate Bill 562 contains stirring prose like this:

This bill, the Healthy California Act, would create the Healthy California program to provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state. The bill, among other things, would provide that the program cover a wide range of medical benefits and other services and would incorporate the health care benefits and standards of other existing federal and state provisions, including, but not limited to, the state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medi-Cal, ancillary health care or social services covered by regional centers for persons with developmental disabilities, Knox-Keene [which supervises HMOs], and the federal Medicare program. The bill would require the board to seek all necessary waivers, approvals, and agreements to allow various existing federal health care payments to be paid to the Healthy California program, which would then assume responsibility for all benefits and services previously paid for with those funds.

You gotta give 'em credit for knowing what they want and spelling it out without weasel words. There's just one catch, and it's in the last paragraph:

This bill would prohibit this act from becoming operative until the Secretary of California Health and Human Services gives written notice to the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the Assembly that the Healthy California Trust Fund has the revenues to fund the costs of implementing the act. The California Health and Human Services Agency would be required to publish a copy of the notice on its Internet Web site.

There isn't a hope in hell that the state can afford this measure, but anyone who's watched the Congressional Budget Office in recent years knows how easy it is to snow officials who want something badly. That said, Sacramento continued to stumble its way toward getting SB 562 enacted — until this past Friday, when Anthony Rendon put his foot down:

Yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate released a cynical plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, posing a real and immediate threat to millions of Californians who only have health coverage because of the ACA.

Preparing California to meet this threat must be the top health care priority for the Legislature, Governor Brown, and organizations that advocate for increasing access to health care.

As someone who has long been a supporter of single payer, I am encouraged by the conversation begun by Senate Bill 562.

However, SB 562 was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete. 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.

In light of this, I have decided SB 562 will remain in the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice.

It probably didn't help that Rendon issued his statement late on a Friday afternoon. He sought to reassure the general public:

Because this is the first year of a two-year session, this action does not mean SB 562 is dead. In fact, it leaves open the exact deep discussion and debate the senators who voted for SB 562 repeatedly said is needed.

The general public took to Twitter to denounce Rendon in no uncertain terms. Rendon didn't shoot back, mostly because, well, it was the weekend.

Personally, I hope they actually go through with SB 562; the states should have the ability to experiment with things like that. From what I can tell about it, it will simplify the market immensely, which is good, and it will increase taxes by a metric buttload, which is hilarious.

The Vent

#1018
  25 June 2017

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