SACRAMENTO, CA – Last week, California took a major step toward universal health coverage when Senate Health Committee members voted 5-2 to approve the Healthy California Act (Senate Bill 562). Sens. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) have proposed to cover all California residents with a publicly run plan.
“With today’s vote we are closer to being able to say, once and for all, that healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a human right,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “Every family, every child, every senior deserves healthcare that costs less and covers more, and California has a chance to lead the rest of the nation toward universal care.”
“I want to thank Senate Health Committee Chairman Dr. Ed Hernandez and the committee members who voted for SB 562 today,” said Senator Toni G. Atkins. “They see clearly that the time is right for us to give all Californians the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they and their families will have access to quality healthcare, no matter who they are, how much money they have or who’s in power in Washington, D.C.”
Hours before the vote, nearly 1,000 people rallied in support of the Healthy California Act at the Sacramento Convention Center and marched to the Capitol for the hearing at the Senate Health Committee.
Supporters thronged the John Burton Hearing Room to speak for the bill.
The Healthy California Act will be heard next by the Appropriations Committee, which Sen. Lara chairs. A fiscal study is underway.
Highlights of the Healthy California Act:
- Covers Californians for all medical care, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care.
- Eliminates co-pays and insurance deductibles
- Californians can choose their doctor from a full list of health care providers, not a narrow network chosen by insurance companies.
- Referrals are not required for a member to see any eligible provider.
- Californians are covered when they travel.
- Physicians and nurses will make decisions about care, and have the ability to override computers or clinical practice guidelines in the best interest of the patient.
- Healthy California will be governed by a nine-member, unpaid board appointed by the governor and Legislature and a public advisory committee of doctors, nurses, other health care providers, and consumers.