Why Trump-backed ‘right-to-try’ bill failed

“WHY TRUMP-BACKED 'RIGHT-TO-TRY' BILL FAILED LAST NIGHT — House Republicans couldn't muster enough votes to approve it through an expedited process, with the 259-140 vote falling short of the necessary two-thirds support from the House chamber. — House Democrats killed the effort, with many questioning whether the bill would help patients. They also criticized GOP leaders for bringing the bill to a floor vote without going through committee first. The Senate unanimously passed right-try-to legislation last summer.Story Continued Below — It's a symbolic defeat for President Donald Trump, who called on Congress to approve the bill in his State of the Union address six weeks ago. It's also a temporary loss for the libertarian Goldwater Institute, which crafted the right-to-try idea and has successfully pushed bills through 38 state legislatures with large bipartisan support. More for Pros. — What’s next: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the chamber will try again. A GOP aide said House Republicans are likely to bring a Senate version of the bill to the floor or try to attach the bill to a bigger legislative package. If they bring a ‘right-to-try’ bill up through regular order, where it only requires a simple majority, the legislation is likely to easily pass. Democrats however, will be even more displeased if the House takes up the Senate bill. The House bill added new patient protections to the right-to-try concept. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer described the Senate bill as “worse” than the one Democrats defeated Tuesday in a conversation with POLITICO. — What supporters of right-to-try are saying: “Unfortunately, scare tactics, falsehoods, and innuendo won the day. We are extremely disappointed that some members of Congress chose to make this bipartisan grassroots movement partisan,” said Victor Riches, the president of the Goldwater Institute. Riches said the group will Continue Reading

Single-payer bill all but dead this year as California lawmakers craft new health package

March 13, 2018 5:03 PM Capitol Alert The go-to source for news on California policy and politics SHARE For California to create a single-payer system, it could need $200 billion from taxpayers. Here's a look at the kind of taxes increases that would be needed. Sharon Okada i By Angela Hart [email protected] California Democratic lawmakers are quietly working on a package of up to 20 health care bills that would soften the political blow from the all-but-certain death of a single-payer universal care bill this year.Senate Bill 562 cleared the Senate last year but stalled in the Assembly when Speaker Anthony Rendon blasted it as "woefully incomplete." The legislation still lacks a plan to cover its $400 billion price tag, a way to control rising health care costs and a strategy to secure federal waivers needed from the Trump administration.Rendon has not formally killed the bill, but he told The Sacramento Bee earlier this month that a fresh health care package is in the works – the clearest sign yet that Senate Bill 562 is dead. Democratic Assemblymen Jim Wood of Healdsburg and Joaquin Arambula of Fresno, who chair a special health committee formed by Rendon last year after the single-payer bill passed the Senate, said Tuesday they are eying legislation this year that seeks to improve quality, expand access and lower rising health care costs. Both expressed doubt, however, that single-payer bill could move forward this year."I would say single-payer is not a reality this year because of the complexity of the steps that we need to go through," Wood said.To capture current federal health care funding and use it to fund a state-based single-payer system, California would have to secure numerous federal waivers. Voters would likely have to approve changes to the state Constitution and massive tax increases would be required.Wood and Arambula declined to say what specific bills they're planning to introduce, but said Continue Reading

Universal health bill unlikely given need to ‘heal relationships,’ says new Senate leader

The infamous image of the California grizzly bear stabbed with a butcher knife inscribed with the last name of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon may have done more than blow up the Twittersphere last year. The chances of reviving the Legislature’s universal health care bill don’t look good this year, said Sen. Toni Atkins, the incoming Senate leader and a co-author of Senate Bill 562. “It doesn’t look like it right now, but I never give up,” said Atkins, who knows firsthand how hard it is for low-income families to afford care. “I think given the dynamic that exists as a result of SB 562, we’ve clearly got a lot of work to do to heal relationships and I don’t know how well that will go given circumstances on the ground.” Atkins was careful to toe the line. She didn’t mention the California Nurses Association or its guns-blazing lobbying tactics that may have done more harm than good. The picture, posted by the nurses’ outspoken leader RoseAnn DeMoro, is emblematic of the association’s strategy to enact universal health care in the Golden State. They rallied Berniecrats, interrupted speakers at the state party convention and threatened to launch primary battles against Democrats who didn’t vote for their legislation. Rendon, who halted what he called the “woefully inadequate” bill after it cleared the Senate without a funding model, said he received death threats. There were other problems, too. Gov. Jerry Brown expressed deep skepticism and never engaged with leaders of either house on the matter. “My goal and my desire and what I think I’m good at and what I think I’m strong at is building bridges, is bringing people together, being a facilitator,” Atkins said. “But you’ve got to have willing parties to facilitate and come together. And I don’t think we’re at that place right now.” The Assembly’s Select Committee on Continue Reading

Opinion: California can’t afford single-payer health care fantasy

By Sally C. Pipes | January 28, 2018 at 8:30 am A civil war is brewing within California’s Democratic party. Progressives — led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the frontrunner for governor, and the politically powerful California Nurses Association — plan to fight for a single-payer healthcare system this year. Their more moderate rivals — among them Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon — are pushing back. Unfortunately, the progressives seem to be winning. Newsom has a 10-point lead over his nearest competitor for the Democratic nomination. If his faction emerges victorious, Californians had better prepare to lose their existing health plans — and pay billions of dollars in new taxes for the privilege. The California Nurses Association says it will push to revive Senate Bill 562, the Healthy California Act.  Nurses recently rallied outside of the state capitol to urge Rendon to move the bill ahead. The bill would effectively take away the health coverage that Californians currently have — including Medicare and Medi-Cal — and replace it with a single government-run plan for all residents. The state government would decide which procedures and drugs to cover. The plan wouldn’t charge premiums, deductibles or co-pays — but it would still cost a fortune. According to an analysis by the state Senate’s Appropriations Committee, the bill would cost $400 billion a year. Of that, $200 billion would supposedly come from repurposing federal dollars earmarked for programs like Medicare and Medi-Cal.  The remaining $200 billion would come from state funds. California’s government currently spends around $183 billion a year.  So, SB 562 would more than double the state budget. The bill contains few specifics about how the state would raise the revenue needed to do so. The Senate Appropriations Committee analysis suggests a 15 percent payroll tax hike.  The California Nurses Association claims Continue Reading

California health bill pushes unrealistic, empty promises

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped California lead the way in expanding health care coverage to millions of previously uninsured people. In San Diego County, more than 385,000 people who were previously without insurance now have health coverage — a drop of almost 30 percent in our county’s uninsured rate. We must continue our work to ensure that all Californians have coverage and access to timely and quality care. Working within the current pluralistic approach to health access, we must achieve this in an affordable — and realistic — way. But to disrupt access and the current health care market with unrealistic and empty promises from the currently proposed single payer and government-run system, which would cost over twice the amount of the entire budget of California, makes little sense. Related: California needs SB 562 to guarantee health care for all Thanks to the ACA, California has improved preventative care and patient access to their doctor, instead of emergency rooms. We must continue to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits by the uninsured and underinsured, especially for the one-third of Californians who rely on MediCal; provide a wide variety of coverage options; and maintain the safety net for those who need public support. Unfortunately, the gains of recent years are now under threat. Congress has repealed one of the central tenets of the ACA, which could have ripple effects throughout the entire health care system, negatively impacting millions of Californians. Some well-meaning but misinformed state legislators are pushing a bill, Senate Bill 562, which promises “coverage for all,” but in reality would further throw our health care system into turmoil. Senate Bill 562 is an irresponsible plan that offers no realistic way to pay for the estimated $400 billion cost associated with the measure. Implementing the bill would require the largest (personal and business) tax increase in state history, and it could Continue Reading

Newsom leads Villaraigosa in California governor’s race, but as election nears it still feels ‘undecided’

By Kevin Modesti | [email protected] | Daily News January 17, 2018 at 3:33 pm It’s getting kind of late for the race for California governor to still be in the early stages. But that’s how it feels. Only a little over 100 days before the first primary election mail-in votes are cast, major polls show more people remain “undecided” than support front-runner Gavin Newsom. Lists of the “top 10 governor’s races of 2018” by The Washington Post and Politico.com didn’t even mention the election to succeed the iconic Jerry Brown at the helm of the nation’s most populous state. “It’s hard to [get] attention,” Newsom said after speaking to a crowd of about 100 people in a campaign stop in the San Fernando Valley community of North Hills on Jan. 11. Newsom thinks the daily soap opera in Washington, D.C., is stealing attention from state and local politics. Others might attribute the ennui to the seeming predictability of a Democratic victory. And the lack of broad policy differences among leading Democratic candidates Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang. Maybe the campaign sparked to life in a debate Jan. 13 at USC that also included Democrat Delaine Eastin and Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox and featured some sharp exchanges. It’s likely that few voters noticed, though, since the debate started at 9 a.m. on a Saturday and wasn’t televised. (It could be viewed at ABC7.com and heard on KPCC-FM (89.3) radio.) As 2018 begins, “undecided” might serve as the best description of the state of the race for governor. Newsom holds a clear advantage in major polls, averaging about 25 percent to Villaraigosa’s 15 percent, and Chiang’s, Allen’s and Cox’s high single digits. Newsom’s lead is bigger than the polls’ margin of error. But undecideds are about 30 percent in most polls, a little higher than in past governor’s races around Continue Reading

Single-player health-care plan: Californians need these three questions answered

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, was blasted by progressives last summer after he shelved Senate Bill 562 — which would create a state-run single-payer health care system — after it had passed the Senate. The leading champions of the bill, the California Nurses Association, posted an image of the California bear with a knife bearing Rendon’s name sticking out of its back. Rendon stressed then that he wants to improve access to health care for all Californians. But he also said with surgical precision that Senate Bill 562 was “woefully incomplete.” The bill doesn’t say what taxes would be raised and/or what programs would be cut to cover its annual cost of up to $400 billion, it doesn’t explain how it could bypass constitutional spending limits and it doesn’t spell out how the state would obtain necessary federal approvals. On Monday, Capital Public Radio posted an interview with a frustrated Rendon in which he said nothing had been done to address any of these shortcomings. This is beyond baffling. To be taken seriously, Senate Bill 562 must be fleshed out — not just exist as a value statement. This should be an early priority for the lawmaker who co-sponsored Senate Bill 562 and will soon take over as Senate president pro tem: Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. Twitter: @sdutIdeas Facebook: San Diego Union-Tribune Ideas & Opinion Continue Reading

Five things you need to know about Gavin Newsom

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is running as the heir apparent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The former mayor of San Francisco, Newsom was the first candidate to announce a 2018 gubernatorial campaign, way back in February 2015, offering that he’d rather be candid than coy about his plans. Newsom, a Democrat, originally sought the office in 2009, but stepped aside after Brown made it clear he was running. Here are five things you should know about Newsom: 1. He owes his early political rise to then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, the former state Assembly speaker and a longtime power broker in California. Willie Brown appointed Newsom to the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission in 1996. The following year, he named him to an open seat on the Board of Supervisors. In 2003, Newsom beat Matt Gonzalez, a Green Party candidate, by nearly 6 percentage points to succeed Willie Brown as mayor. Newsom would cruise to reelection four years later before winning two, four-year terms as lieutenant governor in 2010 and 2014. His first marriage to Kimberly Guilfoyle ended in divorce. The graduate of Santa Clara University now lives in Marin County. He is married to Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and they have four children: Montana, Hunter, Brooklynn and Dutch, named after the Placer County town of Dutch Flat. 2. Newsom is best known for authorizing same-sex weddings. As Newsom recalls the lead-up, he was still steaming after attending George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, where the president reiterated his opposition to gay marriage. Bush, in the January 2004 speech, warned the nation that if “activist judges” insisted on forcing their arbitrary will, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Newsom on Feb. 12 ordered the city clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But even in liberal San Francisco, he risked backlash, becoming a national Continue Reading

Berkeley/West County letters: A better response to GOP tax bill

A better response to GOP tax bill While the GOP obviously deserves our derision for this monstrous tax bill, the left needs a better response than “this is bad.” So here are a few: Let’s not pass bills that are blatantly designed to enrich our donors. In fact, let’s change the process to empower small donors. We are already at pre-Depression levels of wealth inequality. Let’s actively try to shrink the gap between rich and poor. Financial insecurity is a way of life for at least half the country. Let’s address that directly through an unconditional basic income. These are big political lifts, but, critically, they can inspire voters. Democrats can be more than the party that cleans up the mess. We can present a vision that is equal to the challenges we face and our potential to lift the standard of living for every single person. Owen Poindexter Berkeley Recent Oakland Hills fire echoed 1991 blaze Panic set in for many of us in the Oakland Hills on Dec. 11 close to midnight when neighbors woke neighbors with shouts of “Fire! Get out now!” Looking outside to see the sky raining embers forced us to immediately grab children, elderly and animals, get in the car and get out. Thank God Colton Boulevard was wide enough for us coming down and fire engines coming up. Many of us gathered in our pajamas and stocking feet clinging to our families and neighbors wondering if we would ever see our homes again, and hopeful that neighbors made it out. With fire devastation in Northern and Southern California, and memories of Oakland’s great fire in 1991, we wondered what our fate would be. Two and a half excruciating hours later, our city’s firefighters courageously and miraculously contained the four-alarm fire. Endless gratitude and appreciation to the Oakland Fire Department for saving us and our homes. Linda Olvera Oakland Healthy California Act the solution to CalPERS’ problem There is a good solution for Continue Reading

The California Senate Just Passed Single-Payer Health Care

If health care is a right—and it is—the only honest response to the current crisis is the single-payer “Medicare for All” reform that would bring the United States in line with humane and responsible countries worldwide. It is unfortunate that Donald Trump, who once seemed to recognize the logic of single payer, has aligned himself with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s scheme to make health a privilege rather than a right—and to use a “reform” of the Affordable Care Act as a vehicle to reward wealthy campaign donors with tax cuts and sweetheart deals. The debate in Washington is so cruel and unusual that it is easy to imagine that the cause of single payer must be doomed in America. Not so. The movement for single payer is for real, and it’s winning in California. The state Senate voted 23 to 14 on Thursday in favor of SB 562, a single-payer proposal that would guarantee universal health care to all Californians. “What we did today was really approve the concept of a single-payer system in California,” declared state Senator Ricardo Lara, a key advocate for the bill, following the vote. “California Senators have sent an unmistakable message today to every Californian and people across the nation,” declared RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United, which led the fight for the “Healthy California Act.” “We can act to end the nightmare of families who live in fear of getting sick and unable to get the care they need due to the enormous cost,” DeMoro continued. “We’ve shown that healthcare is not only a humanitarian imperative for the nation, it is politically feasible, and it is even the fiscally responsible step to take.” That’s true. According to a review of a new NNU-sponsored study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst: “SB 562 Continue Reading