Vox: Democrats’ 8 plans for Universal Health Care

Polling has shown a dramatic increase in support for Medicare-for-All.  I support that.  However, what does that mean?  How do we get there from here?  Very importantly, how is it paid for?  Sarah Kliff and Dylan Scott write this article for Vox comparing the various plans being debated:

We read Democrats’ 8 plans for universal health care. Here’s how they work.

Any plan, even one with overwhelming public support, is going to run into a political buzzsaw as moneyed special interests fight change at any cost. 

The simplest way to get to Universal Health Care is to lower the starting age of Medicare to 0 and raise the Medicare tax correspondingly.  Private insurance companies would shift their business models into selling supplementary health insurance or other products.

A more gradual approach to get to universal health care is to allow people under 65 to voluntarily buy into Medicare or Medicaid as a public health insurance option.   One are of disagreement — employer based health insurance, and whether or not we should still keep it as a model.  Our international competitors, of course, do not put the financial burden of providing health insurance on their businesses.  Severing the link between employment and health insurance is probably the smart way to go, but it would bring change, and change can be politically problematic.

If you believe the solution for more affordable and universal access to health care and health insurance is to get government completely out of  it  and let the “free market” do its magic, and you completely missed the colossal market failures that left tens of millions of uninsured and unable to access the health care system before the Affordable Care Act, this probably isn’t the article or the blog for you.

What do you think?

Moving toward Universal Health Care in California in 2019.

Democrats had a clean sweep of statewide races in California and almost have a 3 to 1 super-duper-majority in the state legislature.  Politics has evolved rapidly on health care, from “universal health care” being the outlier position, to being the default position of much of the base.

Yes, I do support Medicare-for-All and single-payer.  However, it will likely take a Democratic President, and progressive supermajority in both houses of Congress to pass.  Someday, but obviously with Trump/Pence in the White House and Republicans controlling the Senate, that day politically is not today.

Single-payer is not the only possible pathway to “universal health care”.     The obstacle to enacting single-payer now from a policy perspective is cost.  It is unlikely that the financing would be achievable without a large number of federal waivers I would not expect the California-hostile Trump/Pence administration to give.

Here is an article written by Gabriel Thompson on this issue from Capital & Main that I found interesting:  WAITING FOR GAVIN – Great Expectations: California’s First Steps Toward Universal Health Care

Give it a read and then let me know, What do you think?

New Metro Legend for Rail Lines and Busways Coming

Metro Los Angeles is changing from a colors to alphabet letters when naming its rail lines and busways. once the Regional Connector project goes online Downtown.  Soon we won’t just “Take the A Train:” to Harlem in Manhattan.  We will take it when we are “thinking of heading uptown” from Long Beach to downtown L.A.  

So I am assuming it will be the “C” train extended north to West Hollywood and Hollywood eventually.  Of course, letters may change or be added and alignment grow and new operational routes become possible.  Here is a look at the system — in progress.

What do you think?

State Senator Scott Weiner Revises Bill to Boost Homebuilding Near Transit.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has revived a major effort to boost homebuilding near transit, a proposal he says is necessary to address the state’s housing affordability and climate change challenges that have only deepened since his initial bill failed earlier this year.

From the article:

Under the new proposal from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), developers would be allowed to build four- to five-story apartment complexes in neighborhoods surrounding Los Angeles Metro stations, Bay Area Rapid Transit and other rail stops around the state. The legislation would also ease some local restrictions on building homes near frequently used bus stops.

Wiener’s bill follows a similar attempt in the last legislative session that sparked fierce debate over how far the state should impinge on local authorityto shape community development amid a housing shortage that’s been estimated in the millions. The previous attempt died in a legislative committee after outcry from local governments, labor groups and advocates for low-income residents.

“The heart of the bill is really the same,” Wiener said of his new legislation, Senate Bill 50. “We have a 3.5-million-home deficit in California. It’s undermining our economy. It’s undermining our climate goals. We have to be bold in solving this problem.”

Having learned from last year’s failed attempt:

Wiener made three major changes to the bill that aim to soften opposition from tenant groups and their allies that helped torpedo the prior effort. The legislation blocks developers from using the bill if they planned to knock down properties that renters had occupied within at least the previous seven years. It also allows communities facing pressures from gentrification and displacement to propose alternative plans to boost homebuilding instead of using the system outlined in the bill. And it loosens local zoning restrictions in communities with high median incomes, quality schools and short commutes to jobs, even if there isn’t access to transit nearby — an effort to push development into wealthier areas that might have previously resisted it.

I think California Senate Bill 50 is an idea who time is long overdue.  We have a huge housing shortage, and we already having increasing density.  We just don’t have smart density.  Putting new apartment developments near rail stops just makes common sense.  There is no going back to the low density, sprawl of the 1970’s.  We can only move forward.  Let’s do so smartly.

What do you think?

Is It Time to Repeal Article 34?

Now that California Democrats have a super-duper majority of three-to-one in the state legislature, and hold every statewide elected office, after their most successful election since the 19th Century, the question now turns to what will they do with that majority to try and solve California’s public policy problems.  This blog will look at the changing transportation landscape, the evolution towards universal health care, and how we solve our seemingly intractable housing/homelessness problems.

We need a lot more supply of affordable housing at all income levels.  We all sort of intuitively get that.  The issue tends to become one of NIMBY-ism.  “Build it, but not near me.”  I usually ask the follow-up question, “would you rather have people homeless camped out near you, or living in safe, affordable housing?” The premise of this blog is that we already have the increasing density, we just don’t have the affordable housing and transportation to accommodate it.  So let’s find solutions together.

One solution I saw today was a bill introduced by State Senators Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles Westside/Beaches) and Scott Weiner (San Francisco) that would repeal Article 34 of the California State Constitution.

St. Sen. Allen’s tweet seems mild enough.  St. Sen. Wiener used much stronger language:

Keeping out “poor, non-white people” sounds like something NIMBYs would want to do.  However, repealing Article 34 as I currently understand it would only lift the ban so that cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco with a large number of people who are poor or housing insecure can build new low-rent housing without having to go to an election for every project.  This doesn’t remove accountability because local governments are still be accountable to their voters.

To me, at first glance, repealing Article 34 and getting rid of this particular block to low-rent housing sounds like a good idea.  What do you think?

Angels Moving Forward

Los Angeles is the City, and County, and metropolitan region, of “angels”.  It’s in the name.  And it has a bright future as we head toward the Olympics in 2028.  California, our state, has one of the world’s biggest economies and a full rainy day fund.  (Thank you, Governor Jerry Brown).  However, like all metropolis regions we have challenges too.  This blog aims to shed light and focus on the progress we make in solving these problems as we move forward as Angelenos (and Angels) together.

This new blog is an outgrowth of my blog The Pink Line, where I primarily focused most on public transit issues facing the amazing, creative, dynamic and alive City of West Hollywood, where I am grateful to live and serve as Transportation Commissioner.  I will continue to focus on our public/alternative transportation renaissance, but will also focus on a couple of areas dear to my heart:  our seemingly chronic housing/homelessness problem and are march toward universal health care — plus LGBT issues or anything else I feel like mentioning as this is my blog.

I will end each blog with “What do you think?”, because I want to hear from you.  Please comment, share with your friends and colleagues, and debate the issues like the angels I know you are.

Moving Forward,

Dan