Could California Become the Next Canada for Health Care?

State Sen. Ricardo Lara didn’t move to Canada following Donald Trump’s win last November, but he visited last week. While touring a major research hospital in Toronto, he said he realized that American views on providing health care are becoming more Canadian. “One fundamental difference between the United States and Canada is that they see health care as a human right … there’s a sense of pride that everyone has access to health care,” he said. Since Trump’s election, he said, “attitudes are changing – particularly in California.”

While Republicans in Washington are seeking to resurrect their plan to dismantle Obamacare and replace it with a market-based approach, a pair of Democratic California lawmakers are plotting to go in the opposite direction.

Lara, of Bell Gardens, and Sen. Toni Atkins of San Diego, with backing from National Nurses United and the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, are working to create a universal, government-run health care system. They believe California can be a proving ground for an approach that could be replicated across the nation. “In Canada, this system came from the local level and went province to province. We think this could be a model for the United States,” Lara said. “California can set the standard for how we revolutionize health care delivery for all the residents of this country.”

Under a “single-payer” system like Canada’s, the government would pay health care bills instead of multiple insurance companies. Private hospitals and doctors would provide the care. Premiums, copays and deductibles would disappear. The money would come from state and federal governments and new taxes, likely on earnings, and paid by employers and employees.