California Single Payer Health Care Bill Passes Health Committee

From the Office of Sen. Mark Leno –
May 4, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Senate Health Committee today approved the California Universal Health Care Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Senate Bill 810 guarantees all Californians comprehensive, universal health care while containing ballooning health care costs and improving the quality of care and delivery of health services statewide. The legislation passed with a 5-3 vote.

“California is being overrun by out-of-control health care costs, which has a significant impact on the state budget, businesses and families,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Our single payer plan not only guarantees universal coverage for all Californians, but also contains health care costs, which is essential to solving our state budget crisis in the long term.”

SB 810 creates a private-public partnership to provide every California resident medical, dental, vision, hospitalization and prescription drug benefits and allows patients to choose their own doctors and hospitals. This single payer, “Medicare for All” type of program works by pooling together the money that government, employers and individuals already spend on health care and putting it to better use by cutting out the for-profit middle man.

“We must continue to fight for healthcare for every Californian,” said DeAnn McEwen, President of the California Nurses Association and a nurse at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. “Federal reform does not insure that all Californians will receive the care they need. President Obama noted that if states come up with a better plan, they could move forward. Californians deserve the best. Senate Bill 810 will provide every Californian with an excellent standard of care, improve health outcomes, and finally get healthcare costs under control.”

California currently spends $200 billion annually on a fragmented, inefficient health care system that wastes 30% of every dollar on administration. Under Senate Bill 810, that wasteful spending is eliminated. The bill creates no new spending, and in fact, studies show that the state would save $8 billion in the first year under this single-payer health care plan.

“Most doctors support a public-private partnership like Medicare, but with everybody covered, better benefits, and lower costs,” said Dr. Henry L. Abrons, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, California Chapter. “We need to spend our precious resources wisely. Federal reform won’t accomplish these things, but SB 810 will.”

“Health Care for All realizes that the only way to provide better health care for absolutely everyone, for less money than we’re now spending, and control rising costs, is to pass a bill like SB 810 and then make the necessary changes to finance it,” said Greg Brockbank, chair of Health Care for All, California. “We stand ready to do our part in making that happen, and then to help successfully implement it.”

SB 810 is sponsored and supported by a broad coalition of patients, nurses, doctors, teachers and school employees, small businesses, faith community members, retirees, local governments and school districts. These groups represent more than 2 million Californians. The bill is also sponsored by the California Nurses Association, Health Care for All California, California One Care, California School Employees Association, Physicians for a National Health Program-California, Single Payer Now, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California Alliance of Retired Americans, Amnesty International, League of Women Voters, California Council of Churches, Progressive Democrats of America, California Consumer Federation, National Organization for Women-California, Vision y Compromiso, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Dolores Huerta Foundation, California Health Professional Student Alliance and Courage Campaign.


  1. Anne Henly on May 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    This is the first I have heard of this bill. Wonder why it’s not getting any press? So will it replace private health care programs? I would love more information on this.

    • Bob Marston on May 7, 2011 at 3:27 am

      “This is the first I have heard of this bill.”

      Anne it’s been around a while. In it’s first incarnation it’s was SB-840 first authored by Sheila Kuehl in 2006. She was termed out two years ago. The legislation was picked up by Senator Mark Leno and renumbered SB-810. It was first introduced last year where it past through two committees, Health and Appropriations, and passed a vote of the full California Senate. The Bill was then passed to the California Assembly where it was procedurally bottled up and prevented from coming to the floor for a vote by The Democrat Majority Leader John Perez.

      ” Wonder why it’s not getting any press?”

      Because certain quarters don’t wantb it to get attention.

      And those quarters aren’t Republicans.

      ” So will it replace private health care programs?”

      In a word Yes. But there were some important accomodations made to allow Kaiser Permanente to operate under that structure. KP is a popular Super HMO that enjoys broad support among many Californians.

      ” I would love more information on this.”

      More will be forth coming Anne. Keep in mind the above Press Release is distorted. I can tell you as someone who is very active in the California Single Payer Movement and someone who attended the days events That Single Payer Now and CARA (California Alliance of Retired Americans) brought most of the attendees. (about 2 bus loads) HCA brought 2 dozen people, CNA a dozen to 20 in uniforms. The California School Employees had brought large numbers in the past but had no one there that I recognized. They stated at the beginning of the year they were dropping out to pursue other matters. The Wellstone People had a presence there but they are not easily identifiable. California One Care is Andrew McGuire’s one man operation. The CFT and CTA had no one there beyond their speakers. The rest of the names are endorsers.

  2. Bryce Babcock on May 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    It’s about time!!! A single payer system for healthcare is LONG OVERDUE!! I lived in Canada for 15 years and their single-payer system is far superior to what we have in the US. I may have to move back to CA — I’m doubtful that AZ will ever pass a similar bill… we must wait for a national program, which may take longer! Yes, MEDICARE FOR ALL is the only real way to fix our broken healthcare system.

    • Joanna Heller on May 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm



      • Mona on January 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        My mother in law is from Canada and her sister had to wait three months for bladder surgery for a bed to become available at the hospital in Halifax!

  3. JIM, STOLZ on May 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm


  4. DRoberts MD on May 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    It is a tremendously well thought out single payer plan without much press or support, and now the time has come during these hard economic times for this Affordable, Accessible, High Quality Plan. A person will have the same Doctors, Nurses, and Care Providers. It does the same thing as a Private Insurance Plan, and therefore can replace it. In addition it covers Mental Health, Vision, and Dental. Who needs private insurance when you can get higher quality health care, at a lower cost! Everyone will have a Medical Card to show their MD, and it will get rid of Private Insurance, Medicaid, SCHIP, etc. Doctor’s office overhead will be cheaper and Hospital Collections easier. Why Not!? It is insurance, it does not take over and own Doctors, Hospitals, and other Care Providers.
    It is not Socialized Medicine, It is insurance, but only better than Private Insurance. The Monthly Cost will be less than your Private Premium.

  5. Johanne Auger on May 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Wow It’s about time. I am just now reading this as well.
    How soon can we sign up for this health care??? and where???

  6. Graciela Pleasance on May 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Congratulations California, great news! And I agree….. it is about time!
    My husband and I had to move to Canada for healthcare benefits, since he was denied coverage for having Glaucoma, and I could not afford private health insurance. I hope other states will follow California, or better yet to get single payer health care for the whole nation, Medicare for all!
    May be one day will be able to move back home!

  7. Louis & Jacquelyn Rae Peter on May 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Hurray for California!
    Once again we are leading the rest of the country with something new
    and revolutianry!
    We will join the rest of the industrialized world in healthcare!
    How soon will this be implemented?
    How can we, the citizens help the politicians to move this through as soon as possible?
    Where is all the press on this?
    Are they stupid, ignorant, uninformed or corrupt loke some of our representatives?
    Down with the insurance companies and their for profit rip-offs of the people!
    Healthcare for ALL Americans!

  8. John Kromko on May 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I try to stay current on healthcare, but I’ve never heard of this.

    I was in the Arizona legislature years ago when we were the only state without Medicaid. I started the initiative petition drive that led to Arizona’s Medicaid system. But we got advance assurances from the feds that we would receive a waiver to substitute our system for Medicaid.

    I was inclined to do the same thing again, but Obamacare specifically seems to NOT allow any alternative system. Are there any definite assurances that this alternative will be allowed? How will conflicting provisions be handled?

    Yes, Obama has said that he’d be receptive to alternatives, but he also said that single payer would be on the table when, in fact, he had already promised the industry that it wouldn’t be.

    If it’s possible, I’m ready to go to work.

  9. Tom on May 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    How many more Americans have to lose their homes,life savings or just die because they can’t get or can’t afford health insurance?? It’s time to end the barbaric system we are forced to endure in what is supposed to be the greatest country in the world..I hope California and Vermont pass single payer and the rest of the country follows..

  10. Walter Wilde on May 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Go California! Lead us out of this horrible mash-up we currently call “healthcare,” which really should be called “insurercare.”

  11. Laurie Britt on May 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I am proud of you California! As a native born California girl who is about to return home after an absence of around 15 years, this bill is right on time! I was so worried about health insurance being a problem to get as I have had some past health issues.

  12. Elaine Magalit on January 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I retired in 2009 and my share of the health care costs for me and my husband was $600+ a month. 4 years later, 2013 it is $1,350+ a month, more than double the amount.

    This is really unacceptable that my health care costs are over a quarter of my net income. Unbelievable. Can we look towards other countries which take care of their seniors such as Canada, Italy, even England. I’ve heard that citizens there do not worry about receiving or being able to afford health care.

  13. boas on April 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    That was both of those fascinating likewise as insightful!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  14. Koolade on November 23, 2013 at 11:21 am

    OMG, itz the end of 2013 and this is the first time I even heard that California passed single-payer health care. Itz sad that even with the advent of social media, GREAT news like this doesn’t go viral. Go California. I am curious to know what the average premium now costs. Has it evolved into a waiting list type of a system such as Canada and U.K. Having the opportunity to even get on a list is better than no opportunity due to extreme costs, such as what is available now.

  15. Koolade on November 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    How was it implemented. Is California’s single-payer health care like Canada’s where everyone is covered automatically at birth