Yesterday, the California Assembly voted for a bill, SB 840 , that would provide health care to all state residents under a government-run universal health insurance system, joining the state Senate which enacted a similar bill last year.
The bill, which needs an additional vote in the Senate, faces a possible veto by the governor and will need additional votes in coming years as a new California Health Insurance Agency develops the details of the system, but it represents a trend this year of state legislatures taking significant action towards universal health care. And unlike the Massachusetts law  enacted earlier this year, which accomplished "universal coverage" by the nasty parlor trick of punishing individuals who don't get insurance, the California plan actually requires the state to create an affordable plan for all state residents.
As the Progressive States Network detailed in our July 24th Stateside Dispatch  to its thousands of state legislators and state policy advocates who subscribe, new legislation and proposals are not waiting for DC to move towards universal health coverage. These efforts include:
- San Francisco  enacted a plan to combine an employer "fair share" mandate with public funds to provide health care for all city residents.
- Vermont  created a new "Catamount Health" plan to provide subsidized health care for individuals and families making up to 300% of the poverty line. Massachusetts created a plan promising the same, although with fewer details than Vermont and the pernicious individual mandate condemned by many health care experts and activists.
- Illinois  started implementing its AllKids law, which has created a plan that provides subsidized universal health care for all children in the state.
- A bi-partisan group of Wisconsin  legislators introduced a proposal to provide health coverage for all working families in the state.
While the rightwing and health insurance lobbies will be out in force condemning the California plan and other moves towards eliminating the profiteering by insurance, pharmaceutical and other players in the health industry, Progressive States also recently highlighted the success of the Veterans Administration  in containing costs and providing efficient health care for our veterans under a completely government-run system. Similarly, by eliminating the administrative overhead of multiple state, federal and private programs, an analysis by the independent Lewin Group estimated that the California plan could save $8 billion per year overall in the state that could be used to finance universal coverage.
What is clear is that the corporate-dominated health care system has failed the American people. Since Washington leaders have refused to fix the system, states are stepping in to take up the leadership for health care reform.
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