"I would be surprised if we don't have single-payer by the time I'm 80," said 75-year old Carolyn Negrete, the contact person for Health Care for All Sacramento Valley, when this reporter interviewed her on the current fight for SB 810, California's single payer health care bill.
"It will be a matter of getting people in every district and getting the word out. There hasn't been enough work done to get common demand for it yet," she said.
"We need to make sure all Democrats and anyone else [in the state legislature] votes for it, and that every voter in every district know who voted for or against.
"This will not be implemented without a ballot fight," Negrete observed. "We will begin an initiative petition if there is no signature from the governor, and if we get the governor's signature the other side will."
SB 810, authored by state Senator Mark Leno, is basically the same as previous bills introduced by former state Senator Sheila Kuehl, which passed the state legislature twice, but was vetoed both times by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So far, it has been passed by the State Senate, and passage is expected in the Assembly, where the Democrats have a strong majority.
The bill would establish a premium health commission, appointed by the legislature and the governor, with a timetable of one year to bring specialists together to plan a state single-payer health care scheme, and another year to implement it, Negrete said.
Funding would be at the level it would otherwise be in the year the plan begins, counting everything paid in by employers, individuals and federal and local governments, but subtracting the money for profit and overhead, now taken by the private health insurance companies and not actually used for health care.
A payroll tax would apply to all incomes from $7,000 to $150,000 yearly. Tax would not be paid on more than $150,000, but those who earn $1 million or more would pay 1% of income over $250,000.