New Survey Results Should Give Lawmakers Pause Before Embracing Single-Payer Health Care

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One issue that was pushed on the backburner in this year’s very eventful legislative session was single-payer health care.

Surprisingly, even though the Senate actually passed a single payer bill (SB 562) last session, a single-payer bill wasn’t even introduced this legislative session.

Now as our attention turns to the upcoming 2020 session, the big question is whether a single-payer push will be on the agenda next year.  Nationally, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are loudly touting their “Medicare for All” proposals on the Democratic presidential campaign trail, and liberal voters in California and nationwide are clamoring for single-payer.

Finishing his first year as Governor, Gavin Newsom took what one could argue is an “incremental” approach (for him) to creating an all government-run health care system in California.  Rather than pushing through a single-payer plan, he instead backed proposals to bring back the individual mandate and make more undocumented immigrants eligible for state health care programs.

A new Public Policy Institute of California Institute poll shows that policymakers who are pursuing a “go slow” approach on single-payer in California may be charting a wise course politically.

While 55 percent of those surveyed said that they favor the Affordable Care Act, Californians are worried about the rising costs of health care.  70 percent of those surveyed said that they were either very or somewhat worried about “being able to afford the cost of (their) health care, including the cost of insurance and your out-of-pocket expenses, over the next few years.”

As the single-payer system proposed in SB 562 was projected to cost $400 billion – roughly double the state budget – it’s no big leap to say that most Californians would be very worried by the high costs a single-payer health care system in California would bring them.

This mirrors other national polling that shows voters have second thoughts about single-payer when you inform them of the costs, which we recently discussed on the “Next Round with PRI podcast with noted national pollster Scott Rasmussen.

A January Kaiser Family Foundation poll illustrates this.  In the survey, 56 percent said they favored the concept of single-payer health care, but support drops to just 37 percent when survey respondents were told that single-payer would require Americans to pay more in taxes.

Only time will tell if Newsom and his allies in the Legislature will listen to the voters worried about rising health care costs that single-payer scheme would surely exacerbate, or cave into rising pressure from liberal voters who will be banging the drums for single-payer as the presidential campaign unfolds.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.  

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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