After a Talking Down by Nurses, Gavin Newsom Reverts to Backing Single Payer

California Lt Governor and candidate for Governor Gavin Newsom is once again backing SB 562, the single-payer health bill sponsored by the California Nurses Union (CNA) and introduced in the California Senate by Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins. For calendar reasons, the State Senate passed the bill before the financial studies were finished, so the bill did not include funding mechanisms. Single payer proponents were expecting that these would be introduced as the bill was considered by the Assembly. Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon, however, did not allow this to happen, putting the bill to pasture instead. Single payer activists have been pushing Rendon to revive the bill, attach the funding and move California towards single payer.

CNA endorsed Gavin Newsom back in 2015 with the expectation that he would back single payer. However, he was publicly cagey about his support until he was forced to take a stance by delegates to the California Democratic Convention. At the time, he told delegates “I am with you” in support of SB 562.  After the Convention, however, Newsom made public statements opposing SB 562 and proposing a healthcare plan based on Healthy San Francisco, which provides a limited public option for people who cannot otherwise afford private insurance.  Healthy San Francisco only works with specific community hospitals and clinics and does not provide coverage for medical emergencies outside city limits.

CNA leadership has been under pressure from its members and outside allies alike to withdraw their endorsement of Newsom given his anti-SB 562 stance. The pressure seems to have worked on both leadership and Newsom, as he announced his support of SB 562 Friday morning, speaking at CNA’s Convention in San Francisco.  This should assure him of CNA’s continual support, but his equivocations on the bill have already damaged his credibility among single-payer supporters.