In California, America’s West Coat nature preserve for loons, there’s a big push to declare health care a “human right” (for the record, in case you’re ever a pageant contestant, rights are God-given; nothing can be a “right” that requires coercing other people into providing it to you) and institute statewide single-payer health care.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee commissioned a study on how much that would cost, and the numbers are in. Financial analysts estimate that creating a publicly-funded universal health care system would cost approximately $400 billion a year, or more than double the entire state budget of about $180 billion. Proponents say the $100 to $150 billion currently being spent on health care benefits by employers would help offset the expense. Great, then it wouldn’t lower health care costs for employers at all, plus taxpayers would have to pony up an extra hundred billion a year at bare minimum. They also might want to ask Vermont and Tennessee just how accurate initial cost projections are for vast expansions of state health care benefits. Or look at other nations with single-payer systems for a frightening preview of what happens to the quality of health care when the money runs low.


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California’s Chamber of Commerce said the single-payer plan would “result in significant loss of jobs,” and a spokesman for the California Association of Health Plans called it “massively, if not prohibitively expensive.” Most surprisingly, the Sacramento Bee said the cost analysis “is seen as the biggest hurdle to create a universal system.” Since when has the crushing cost of anything been seen as a hurdle to the California legislature?

Still, $400 billion a year (to start) is so obviously, ruinously unaffordable that even California politicians may be forced to abandon their dream of a state single-payer system and fall back on Plan B: Demanding that Washington implement one nationwide.

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