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SLO City Council endorses 'Healthy California' bill

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The San Luis Obispo City Council took a dive into state politics on June 20, voting 4-1 to endorse the "goals" of the Healthy California Act, the state health care bill that aims to create a single-payer, universal health care system in California.

UNIVERSAL CARE 
On June 20, the SLO City Council adopted a resolution endorsing the “goals” of the Healthy California Act, a proposed universal health care bill in the State Legislature. - PHOTO BY PETER JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY PETER JOHNSON
  • UNIVERSAL CARE 
On June 20, the SLO City Council adopted a resolution endorsing the “goals” of the Healthy California Act, a proposed universal health care bill in the State Legislature.

If it's passed in the state Legislature, and later approved by voters in an election, the Healthy California Act would deliver health insurance to every state resident, including undocumented residents, at a projected cost of $400 billion.

"I think it's really incumbent upon us to take a stand on this," said SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon, who voted on May 2 to place the endorsement on the council's agenda. "I really believe we need universal health care."

The bill, called Senate Bill 562, passed the Senate floor on June 1 and it's currently in Assembly committees. Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), who represents SLO County, voted in favor of the bill.

Opponents of the bill—like the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association—say the cost of the new health care system, which could be $276 billion more than the entire state general fund budget, would lead to extreme tax increases. The bill's backers say half the costs would be borne by federal funding for programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

According to SLO, the bill is endorsed by 307 organizations, which include cities and counties, like the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, while 46 groups, mostly insurance groups and chambers of commerce, have opposed it.

Since the details of the bill are in flux, the SLO City Council directed its resolution of endorsement toward the "goal" of the bill—universal health care—rather than the bill as it's written.

"I recognize there may be some imperfections [in the bill]," Harmon said. "I also recognize that what we have now isn't working and what we see coming from the federal government looks to be even less workable."

Councilmembers Andy Pease, Dan Rivoire, and Aaron Gomez also stated their strong support for the legislation.

"[The bill] is very relevant for our city," Pease said. "Health care certainly impacts all of how we function as a city; it impacts our residents and businesses."

Councilmember Carlyn Christianson was the lone dissenting vote.

"It's been fun to go from the young radical to the old conservative," Christianson said. "The city directly doesn't have a whole lot to do with this. I'm not sure it's within our city's purview to do this at this time."

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