California Democrats wrestle with proposal to replace private health insurance with `single-payer’ system

SACRAMENTO — A sweeping proposal to replace private medical insurance in California with a single, government-run health care system has suddenly taken on sharp political edges for Democrats, threatening party unity even as it promises to mobilize voters on the left.


Supporters say “single-payer” proposals like Senate Bill 562, which the state Senate could vote on this week, are becoming a hard-and-fast litmus test for Democrats in California, and perhaps nationally — despite the long odds of one state going it alone with a top-to-bottom health care overhaul.

“From here on out, single-payer — and in particular 562 — is going to be for Democrats what abortion is for Republicans,” said Don Nielsen, a lobbyist for the powerful California Nurses Association, the bill’s lead sponsor.

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