Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown sounds skeptical note on single-payer health care for California

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, during an event marking seven years since former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, during an event marking seven years since former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. AP

Gov. Jerry Brown, in Washington warning about the billions his state could lose on the eve of a Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, strained Wednesday to understand the logic behind pushing another system like single-payer.

“Where do you get the extra money?” Brown asked in an extended chat with reporters. “This is the whole question. I don’t even get ... how do you do that?”

Universal healthcare has gained in popularity, particularly among liberal groups in California, as an answer to what they see as the undermining of Obamacare. Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, has introduced a single-payer bill, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is formulating his variation of a health plan he said would be based off of his work as mayor of San Francisco.

Brown remained deeply skeptical.

“This is called ‘the unknown by means of the more unknown,’” he said. “In other words, you take a problem, and say ‘I am going to solve it by something that’s ... a bigger problem,’ which makes no sense.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is introduced by RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, at an endorsement event in August 2015.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told The Sacramento Bee on March 8, 2017 that other countries have cheaper insurance and better health outcomes because of their single-payer health care systems.

On other topics occupying oxygen at the state Capitol, Brown said that while he stands committed to pushing for renewal of cap and trade, he also continues to believe in a global carbon tax.

Asked about “sanctuary cities” that prevent their law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, Brown said his understanding of sanctuaries is they are in churches.

“As an altar boy, I knew what the sanctuary was,” Brown said. “When we talk about it in the political context it gets a little fuzzier.”

Brown, while not addressing the so-called “sanctuary state” bill, Senate Bill 54, moving through the Legislature, did note his signature on the Trust Act, which set guidelines dictating when local law enforcement must detain arrested immigrants.

“There may be other improvements, or changes,” he said. “I will consider them, specifically, but I don’t want an over-inclusive general term that has a lot of of ring to it, but doesn’t have the specificity I think good legislation requires.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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