What is SB 562 all about?

Author Brian Armstrong, Director of Employee Benefits for Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.

It may be of interest, if not importance, for all Californians to know about current proposed legislation, sponsored by Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens and Senator Toni Atkins of San Diego.  The proposed bill would significantly expand the role of the state government within the healthcare system, by essentially establishing a single-payer system.

Under Senate Bill 562 (SB 562), the State would cover all medical services for every resident regardless of income or immigration status, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care.  Furthermore, insurers would be prohibited from offering benefits that cover the same services, potentially resulting in their choice to exit the marketplace.  While the proposed bill touts that the program would eliminate co-pays and deductibles, and the need to obtain referrals, there is no mention of how it would be funded, except through “broad-based revenue.”

Obviously, many people ask me about the direction healthcare is headed in California and the Country; to which, I do my best to eliminate my interest in the subject since I make my living guiding companies through the insurance process.  But, I do offer up some food-for- thought in terms of evaluating such a proposal, including citing the increasing shortfall of funding for Medicare, and the VA as examples of government-run healthcare, as it seems to me the former is going to require an eventual increase in payroll taxes, which effects everyone, employers and employees alike, and the latter is a good example of inefficiency and lack of innovation when there is no competition.  

Personally, I believe that healthcare is both a right and a responsibility.  As out-of-whack as the current system seems, or let’s face it, is, I just don’t know how we go about funding such a proposal without breaking the proverbial bank. The financial and economic realities have to be weighed with the politics, which is why it’s a bit of a relief that Governor Jerry Brown has asked the question in return, “Where do you get the extra money?  This is the whole question?”

Whatever my thoughts, it is certainly a complex and vexing economic, social, and political issue for our times, one that will continue to be hotly debated and legislated, so there is much more to come.