As the California state Senate moves forward with The Healthy California Act, which would create a universal single-payer health care plan for the state, the pros and cons were debated during an educational panel discussion at Laguna Niguel City Hall on Thursday, July 27.
The Healthy California Act, SB562, would eliminate health-insurance companies and provide government-funded health coverage for every California resident. The program is estimated to cost $400 billion annually and would require tax increases.
Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce and Orange County Association of Health Underwriters hosted the panel, with Mayor Jerry Slusiewicz moderating. Nearly 70 people attended the free event.
“We’re glad that we can host this single-payer health care in California panel discussion,” Slusiewicz said.
Panelists included state Sen. Patricia Bates, physician Dr. Jeffrey Barke, president of Orange County Association of Health Underwriters Juan Lopez and past president of National Association of Health Underwriters Alan Katz.
Slusiewicz said the panelist selection was “trying to be fair,” with Katz, as the only panelist in favor of single-payer health care, speaking for 10 minutes and the other three panelists opposed speaking for five minutes each.
Katz kicked off the discussion highlighting three primary reasons – moral, economic and efficiency – why some people support a universal single-payer health care system.
“The moral argument is pretty straight forward — people shouldn’t die or suffer because of lack of health insurance,” Katz said. “In a country as great as America and a state as great as California, we should not sit by and watch people suffer needlessly when action can be taken to get the access they need.”
Katz admitted that although SB562 does not go into great detail on its financial plan, universal or single-payer health care concepts do have economic benefits. One he pointed to was money being sucked from businesses having to provide health insurance, which reduces opportunities to hire more people or to increase their workers’ salaries.
Regarding efficiency, Katz said that with a typical American having many different health care payers, for example the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, medical or worker’s compensation, things can get…