California nurses rally for bill on 1st state-run single-payer health plan

Two state legislators have proposed single-payer health plan for California.

— -- Hundreds of California nurses and community activists are rallying today in favor of a bill that could make the state the first to launch a single-payer health care system.

"We believe [health care is] a right and not a privilege," she told ABC News. "We know at the federal level there is debate and quandary about what to do, and we know that this provides an opportunity in California to set a standard and a model for the nation."

This proposed legislation would go further than the ACA by making all California residents eligible for coverage. The bill, the Californians for a Healthy California Act, was introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and state Sen. Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, last week.

"Healthy California gives everyone insurance, because everyone has a right to health care," Lara said in a statement at the time. "Trump and the Republicans don't get to pick the health care winners and losers, and we'll never get to 100 percent health care in California unless we lead."

Castillo said her group is optimistic about the law's chances, since many people have voiced concerns about a possible decrease in health coverage if the ACA is repealed.

This bill does not give details on how California would implement a single-payer system, which would require the state to take on the huge task of negotiating bulk prices for health care services and medications on behalf of the state's giant population. Regardless, she said, her group plans on being at the drafting table to ensure the system can function.

"It's a real opportunity to address this problem and in a way that provides real relief," Castillo said.

Without details on how the plan will work with federal programs, it is difficult to say how functional it would be, according to Laurence Baker, a professor of health research and policy and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

"This would have to interact with other national programs," he explained. "The system would have to be functional within the national health system ... It would be another layer of difficulty."

"It would have to be a uniquely American California system," Baker said.

It's feasible for California to pull it off, he said, because of its size and bargaining power, but there has never been enough political will to figure out the complex and daunting task of doing so.

"It has been up and down, and it's never been a majority of the population" in support of the single-payer system, Baker said. "In a political sense ... what is the moment for folks who want to support it?"