California lawmakers to hold universal health care hearings

Gov. Jerry Brown gestures are he responds to a question concerning his proposed 2014-15 state budget he unveiled at a news conference at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. A robust economic recovery and surging revenue propelled by voter-approved tax increases has sent California's general fund spending to a record high, marking a dramatic turn-around for the state. With the an increase in tax receipts, Brown is proposing a spending plan that includes a 8.5 percent increase in general fund spending coupled with a dedication to pay down the state's debt by more than $11 billion.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) ORG XMIT: SC110


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers will hold hearings on universal health care during the Legislature’s year-end recess.

Speaker Anthony Rendon announced the plans Thursday after enduring weeks of backlash from members of his own party for a health care bill passed by the Senate.

That bill would have eliminated insurance companies in California and implemented a government-run health care system, known as a single-payer system. Rendon says he supports universal health care but couldn’t move the Senate bill forward because it lacked key details about how the system would function and how it would be funded.

“I don’t think we’ve at all had anything close to approaching an honest discussion about single payer,” he said. “This is an attempt to have a serious discussion.”

Rendon says a select committee headed by two members of the Assembly who are physicians will explore options for universal health care in the state.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, who authored the Senate legislation, praised Rendon for the announcement.

“I am glad the Assembly is joining the conversation about universal health care that started in the Senate this year,” Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat, said in a statement.

The California Nurses Association has harshly criticized Rendon over his decision to shelve Lara’s bill. They said the Assembly should hold hearings on the existing bill instead.

“California does not need a Select Committee to hold hearings to develop a plan for achieving universal health care,” Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement.



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