Don’t jump on the single-payer bandwagon yet – we can’t afford it! | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |

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By Diana Diamond

Don’t jump on the single-payer bandwagon yet – we can’t afford it!

Uploaded: Jan 26, 2022

Toss away those Medicare and MediCal cards – they will be invalid. Forget about paying your monthly health premium rates – you will no longer be charged for such insurance. Don’t worry anymore about co-pays and deductibles. They are vanishing.

Yes, welcome to Cal Care, a new single-payer health care system being debated (sort-of) by California officials that will, if adopted, completely change the health care system for all Californians in future years.

At first blush, it sounds wonderful. But beware of the nasty details. What you now may see as a happy rose-colored future, could, well, darken and end up bankrupting this state.

First the positives of the proposed single-payer health care system for Californians:

If adopted by this state, all of us, rich and poor, will get all medical services from CalCare.

All primary care, doctor’s visits, routine checks, preventive care, hospital services and stays, all prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment, lab and diagnostic work, maternity care, ambulatory services will be provided.

But wait, as they say, there’s even more. Dental, hearing and vision coverage will be provided by CalCare. We can choose our own doctors, hospitals and other providers, in any network. No premiums or co-pays. The Golden State will even cover you in your golden years.

The list, to me, seems like a whopping package of health care goodies that CalCare will provide.

And the negatives?

Well, you will no longer be covered by Medicare. Or MediCal. The state would have to convince the feds to turn over the Medicare money they are paying for us – or the state will have to bear all the cost. And it will have to coordinate all the physicians, hospitals, clinics, health facilities et al to make sure they will accept CalCare.

The biggest problem, as in really BIG, is the cost – I’ve seen estimates at first at $163 billion a year, but this week, Los Angeles columnist George Skelton said staff estimates now range between $314 billion to $391 billion a year. EVERY YEAR.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has just introduced a budget of $286 billion for the upcoming year – without any single-payer provision.

So where’s the $314 (+ / -) billion for CalCare coming from?

Think about it.

Didn’t take long, did it. Yes, YOU and ME, the taxpayers, have to cough up the dough. And how will we be asked to pay for it? Enormous state tax hikes -- the far largest in history, one legislator said.

Some health care experts suggest our yearly state taxes will have to triple or quadruple to cover the costs for single-pay. Also, payroll taxes will experience a big hike.

So we get free medical care, prescriptions, hospital stays in exchange for lots of our money to pay not only for us , but for everyone.

Some say Europe has had government pay for health care, and it works well now. True, but it took these countries 50 years or so to refine the system. In Denmark, middle-class individuals are now taxed somewhere near the 50 percent level. Also, Europe does not have the spiraling prescription drug costs that we are encountering in the U.S.

The state legislature in Sacramento reviewed the single-payer concept this month, and as Skelton reported, a rushed- through a version of this bill (AB 1400) came before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Without any discussion (!), it was approved on party lines 11-3. No analysis of whether single payer makes financial sense.

Maybe our legislators don’t like to disturb their handsome heads over details like that. The Assembly has a Jan. 31 deadline to send the bill to the Senate. If it gets there, and it may not, we will see if the Senate is any better at examining future expenses than the Assembly is.

To me, this whole thing is scary – scary that such an omnibus bill that offers to pay for everyone’s health care costs for years on end is even being considered without a lot more study (e.g., do the poor pay anything, including higher taxes?), and scary that our legislature is so cavalier about getting such legislation passed in a hurry.

It probably won’t get voted on this year, because it’s an election year, but next year – just watch out!

As I recall, Gov. Newsom offered up this plan late last year, but now has remained silent about it. Maybe he’s realizing that he may be creating a monster.

I have several liberal friends who, upon hearing this, said, “Yes, this is great. We need single-payer in California.”

Now that you know a little more about it, do we really? In principle, yes, but it’s not financially feasible.

Do you think Sacramento is capable of enacting such a massive program affecting all of our health care costs?

I don’t.