California legislators are debating whether to throw out the existing system of health care delivery and replace it with a government-run system. The legislators are likely to vote on SB 840 by August 31, 2006, the end of this legislative session.

SB 840 was authored by Senator Sheila Keuhl (D-Santa Monica.) It would forbid insurance companies to market and sell private health insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Health Net, Blue Shield.) Instead, the “California Health Insurance Reliability Act” would create a “California Health Insurance System” run by the “California Health Insurance Agency.”

These government agencies would establish one set of health insurance benefits for all people in California – employed, unemployed, newly arrived immigrants and visitors to the state. Everyone would receive the same benefits – yet only employers and those with jobs would pay for the plan.

For a comprehensive analysis of this legislation see “Economic and Policy Analysis of California’s Proposed Single-Payer Health Care System (SB 840.)”

Cuba and North Korea are the only countries which have a government only health care delivery system – with no private health insurance available. No region, or state, has such a draconian plan.

Apparently, the Democratically controlled California legislature wants to pass SB 840 and send it to Governor Schwarzenegger prior to the November general election. There is no funding component of the bill and its only intention is to embarrass the Governor and open him up to attacks that he is not doing anything to resolve the crisis of rising health care costs.

A government run system would solve the problem of rising costs by rationing care and making medical care unavailable or only available after long waits. This is not a solution to our problems.