SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom doubled down on his commitment to pass universal healthcare in California on Tuesday.
His plan is for the state to pay for all healthcare expenses for low-income adults, regardless of immigration status. California would be the first in the nation to implement such a thing.
"I campaigned on universal healthcare; we're delivering on that," Newsom said in Kern County Tuesday while promoting his new healthcare-for-all plan.
"For those... that are critical of this proposal, I would only offer this: we have universal healthcare in this state and in this country, but it's on the back end," he said. "It's called the emergency room, and it's costing you, the taxpayer, a fortune."
That message was directed at people like Republican Assemblymember Tom Lackey, who represents Kern County. He sits on the budget committee.
"It's a dishonest proposal, because it's giving false promises," Lackey said, "And we're not even talking about the cost, which is the most glaring challenge that faces our public healthcare crisis."
According to the governor’s proposal, it will cost taxpayers $2.7 billion a year. Lackey doesn't believe it.
"Not even close," he said. "No, it's not even close to realistically covering what they're indicating it's going to cover."
It’s why he wants the Legislative Analyst's Office to run an independent cost analysis.
"The pandemic, if it's shown us anything, it's that our health is really interconnected," Sarah Dar said "You know, one of us being healthy, it means all of us being able to be healthy and have that peace of mind."
Dar is with the California Immigrant Policy Center. She said the rest of the country should pay attention to what's about to happen.
"California has led the way on so many issues across the board, beyond just healthcare beyond just immigrant rights," she said, "And so, we're excited for other states to follow suit."
This universal healthcare plan is different from Obamacare, or Covered California, which only applies to legal residents.
"It changes people's lives to be able to get access to comprehensive healthcare in this way," Dar said.
California already covers healthcare costs for low-income people younger than 26 and those over 50. The proposal closes the gap to include all ages.
Dar added that, since those first parts were implemented, there’s been no evidence that people come to California to get healthcare.
This universal healthcare proposal is different than the single-payer bill that's also the center of discussion in the political world. That's a separate bill that would put all Californians under the same health insurer: the state. It would get rid of private insurers.
As of Monday, Newsom said he hadn’t read the bill, and no one presented it to him.