By Yusra Serhan
AB 1400 (Kalra), titled the “California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act,” as amended January 24, 2022, and as it applies to the DMHC, would have added Title 23 to the Government Code to establish a universal single-payer health care coverage and cost control system for all California residents.
AB 1400 would have created the CalCare program, a publicly financed healthcare system that would have provided health care coverage to all Californians, regardless of income or immigration status. According to the bill analysis, an estimated 3.2 million Californians remain uninsured today. Supporters of the bill, including the California Nurses’ Association, several California cities and counties, universal healthcare advocates, social justice in healthcare organizations, political organizations, and labor unions, believe CalCare would have saved residents money by forming a singular government program that would remove the cost of premiums, deductibles, and copays associated with private insurance. CalCare would run as an independent public entity governed by a nine-member executive board, a Public Advisory Committee, and an eleven-member Advisory Committee on Long-term Services and Supports. According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s analysis, this program would cost an estimated $314 to $391 billion in state and federal funds, which would exceed Governor Newsom’s proposed state budget of $286.4 billion.
The Author, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, proposed to pay for the costs with ACA 11, a constitutional amendment that would have raised taxes by increasing payroll and sales taxes for large businesses and increasing the payroll tax by 1% for those who earn more than $49,900; thereby providing hundreds of billions of dollars to help fund the CalCare program.
The bill drew significant opposition from powerful coalitions, such as the “Protect California Health Care Coalition,” comprised of the California Life and Health Insurance Coalition, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Hospital Association, the California Medical Association, and others, who, according to the bill analysis, cited a host of concerns including that the bill would fragment patient care, leading to increased clinical practice variation and poorer health outcomes, poorer consumer protections, increased costs, and loss of jobs.
Ultimately, Kalra pulled the bill from the Assembly floor before voting occurred on January 31, 2022, explaining in a press release, “we did not have the votes necessary for passage and I decided the best course of action is to not put AB 1400 for a vote today.” Because AB 1400 was introduced in 2021 and did not meet the January 31, 2022 deadline to pass out of the Assembly, it is considered “dead” for this legislative session. ACA 11, however, is still pending; it requires a 2/3 vote in each house, and voter approval to pass.