Progressive Caucus Warns California Democrats to Approve Nation’s First Single-Payer Health Care Bill

By Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.
January 27, 2022 Updated: January 30, 2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party is threatening to withdraw endorsements for any assemblymembers who vote against the single-payer health care bill on Jan. 31, according to an email sent out by the party this week.

“What we’ve made clear to our delegates is that if an assembly member is going to vote against the party’s values, and vote against what is endorsed by the California Labor Federation, and what is supported by the majority of Californians, then they don’t deserve endorsement because they don’t believe in the values of the California Democratic Party,” Progressive Caucus Chairman and California Democratic Party Executive Board Member Amar Shergill told The Epoch Times.

Without endorsement from the party, Democrat lawmakers seeking reelection could have trouble securing financial backing. The preliminary endorsement process for the November election begins Feb. 5—a few days after the Jan. 31 deadline for the assembly to approve the proposal before it moves to the Senate.

Assembly Bill 1400 (AB 1400)—also known as the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act—would create “CalCare” for all California residents regardless of citizenship status.

Authored by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Alex Lee (D-San Jose), the bill was approved in a series of health committee hearings this month.

The single-payer system would eliminate both private health care and current government health care options, such as Covered California and Medicare. Instead, the state would be the only health care provider.

To put the system in motion, Kalra also authored a constitutional amendment, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11 (ACA 11), which proposes a slew of taxes to push AB 1400 into reality. The amendment relies on a gross receipts tax, payroll tax, and a personal income tax on those earning above $149,509 to fund the single-payer health care system.

“We already pay for every dollar of health care in California,” Shergill said. “So, what we’re saying is instead put all of that money in one bucket and actually pay less for better care.”

If the bill passes, it wouldn’t become law until 2023. Shergill said there would be a “transition period” and that “it’s not going to happen overnight.” He said the bill provides a consultative process with labor unions and employers to ensure a smooth transition.

The bill is supported by the California Nurses Association and other labor union groups, but it’s opposed by California Chamber of Commerce, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California Taxpayers Association, and several other businesses and medical associations.

Jim Stanley, press secretary for the Assembly Republicans, told The Epoch Times previously that ACA 11 “would increase payroll taxes on anyone earning more than $49,000 a year.”

“That would be a massive middle-class tax increase,” he said. “If the fund that they create to pay for this runs out of money, they will be allowed to increase taxes with a simple majority vote in the legislature, so that is repealing part of Prop. 13 requiring two-thirds approval. And it would also include payroll tax increases on businesses.”

The California Taxpayers Association estimated that AB 1400 would cost businesses and individuals $163 billion annually to sustain the system—a stark contrast to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s estimate of $2.7 billion.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told The Epoch Times previously that the tax hikes will “have an accelerating effect on the number of people and businesses leaving California.”

“There are a lot of people who are not rich—who are going to be making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year—which barely covers the cost of living in California, but they’re going to have the state demand that their employer take out 1 percent to give to the state, so they’re actually hurting the middle class and the working poor with this proposal,” Coupal said.

If the bill doesn’t pass on Jan. 31, it will be waived for the remainder of the year, since the bill was introduced last year in the Assembly.

“I know the political pressure by the far left special interest groups will be strong for my colleagues,” Assemblywoman Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel) told The Epoch Times. “But the wrath of constituents for passing a $12,250 per-household tax increase will be stronger.”

Health Committee Democrats approved the bill in the first series of hearings, but Assemblywomen Autumn Burke, (D-Inglewood), and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, (D-Davis) indicated they would vote no when it reaches the Assembly floor come Jan. 31.

Aguiar-Curry’s office declined to comment at this time, and Burke’s office couldn’t be reached by press deadline.

Jamie Joseph
Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.