Gavin Newsom, Democratic candidate for governor of California, said on liberal podcast "Pod Save America" that the state government should pay for universal health care for illegal immigrants.
In the episode, released Tuesday, the candidate and current lieutenant governor of California touted his involvement in San Francisco having "the only universal health care plan for all undocumented residents in America."
"I did universal health care when I was mayor—fully implemented, regardless of pre-existing condition, ability to pay, and regardless of your immigration status. San Francisco is the only universal health care plan for all undocumented residents in America. Very proud of that," Newsom said. "I’d like to see that extended to the rest of the state."
Newsom, who is running to succeed California Gov. Jerry Brown (D.), was asked if he would try to implement a single-payer health care system in California if elected governor.
"It needs to be pulled into the governor's office. The executive needs to lead it. Obamacare would not have happened if it was just exclusively a legislative fiat. That said, [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi did a magical job of organizing it, but it required concerted contributions of the President of the United States," Newsom said. "The only way in a state whose population is larger than 163 nations—California's economy is larger than all but four nations, the fifth largest economy—to approximate a strategy for universal health care is with the support and concurrence of the governor. And that's frankly not an indictment; it's just been what's missing in the past."
The California legislature has struggled over the past few years on single-payer legislation. Unable to come to agreement, the state assembly shelved the legislation.
Newsom said he would broaden the current proposals, which he argues are only a start to the process of planning a single-payer system.
"I'd broaden it well beyond a bill that basically started a process," Newsom said. "That process can be done without a bill. That process should be done by the next governor and I'm committed to it for no other reason than health care is devouring our budget. Health care in this state is the biggest driver of unfunded retirement benefits. It's a driver of a lot of our costs."
While single-payer is popular with Democrats, states have still been unable to implement it. Single-payer failed to pass in Vermont after lawmakers were unable to figure out how to fund the system. Voters in Colorado also rejected single-payer in 2016.