Capitol Alert

How much would universal health care cost California?

'Don't wait for them. You lead' on health care, nurses' leader tells rally

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, told hundreds of nurses and health care advocates gathered for a rally at the Capitol that Democrats need to support a public-funded universal health care system in Californi
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RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, told hundreds of nurses and health care advocates gathered for a rally at the Capitol that Democrats need to support a public-funded universal health care system in Californi

Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up for it here.

It’s been a burning question since Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, announced plans to overhaul California’s health care market in February: How much would a public-funded, universal health care system actually cost?

The answer should be coming today.

Senate Bill 562, also known as the Healthy California Act, is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which Lara chairs, at 11 a.m. As of late Friday, the bill was still lacking nitty-gritty details on costs and how the government-controlled system would actually work – a point about which opponents have complained.

An analysis from Lara’s committee is expected to reveal the price tag of providing health care to the nearly 40 million people living in the state. The California Nurses Association, which developed the legislation and is advocating for its passage, is releasing another analysis it paid researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to conduct.

The dearth of details leaves opponents with little time to prep for the hearing or question the ultimate financial figure Lara’s committee will provide.

Gov. Jerry Brown also has questioned how the state would come up with the money to pay for the program. The bill states an intent to pool federal funding for Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and other existing funds and subsidies to help pay the cost of the system. The nurses’ association, meanwhile, said it would seek primary election opponents for Democrats who don’t vote for the program.

The hearing is unlikely to address another elephant in the room. In a year legislators passed a controversial gas tax, introduced several climate change proposals and are working on housing reform along with other heavy lifts, do lawmakers have the political will to overhaul the state health care system and defy the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and other business interests that oppose the proposal?

WORTH REPEATING: “Yeah.” – John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, acknowledging that he voted for Bernie Sanders for president last fall.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Burton mixed it up with nurses pushing universal health care.

RALLY: A grass-roots organization, Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community, is expected to rally Monday to demand justice for Mario Woods and other people of color who been killed by police officers in San Francisco. Police riddled Woods, armed with a knife, with bullets during a confrontation after he stabbed a stranger at random in late 2015. The shooting was captured on cellphone video. The rally begins at 11 a.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

MUST READ: Adam Ashton explains how Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses get caught up in California’s nearly three-decade-old anti-communist laws.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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