by Dan Thompson / San Diego News Network / January 28, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Senate approved creating a government-run health care system for the nation’s most populous state on Thursday, ignoring a veto threat from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Supporters said it is time for state legislatures to take up the debate as the Obama Administration’s national health care proposal falters in Congress. “If it’s not to be done at the national level, let us take the lead,” said state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego. The move in California comes after Massachusetts voters changed the calculus in Congress by electing a Republican to the Senate who opposes the pending plan.
Democrats are the majority in both houses of the California Legislature. The 40-member state Senate passed the single-payer plan on a 22-14 vote, sending it to the Assembly. One Democrat voted against the measure.
Schwarzenegger promised to veto the proposal, as he has two similar plans that previously reached his desk. Spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola cited the state’s massive budget cuts and looming $20 billion deficit in arguing the state cannot afford to shift to a single-payer health care system. “Any elected official who thinks it’s a good idea to strap the state with tens of billions of dollars from a government-run health care system is clearly not in touch with what voters need and deserve,” Arrezola said.
The proposal by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, authorizes $1 million to establish a commission that would decide how to pay for the system. The funding plan would ultimately have to be approved by voters.
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