Newsom signs NUHW-backed universal healthcare bill
Governor Newsom has signed SB 770, the NUHW-backed universal healthcare bill could put California on the path toward building a Medicare for All-style healthcare system.
NUHW helped spearhead the legislation, authored by State Sens. Scott Wiener and Mike McGuire, through its leadership role in Healthy California Now, the state’s largest coalition of single payer healthcare advocates.
“With this signature, California takes a historic step toward universal healthcare,” Wiener said in a statement that was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. “The state will now begin answering the complex question of how we can access federal financing to fund a universal healthcare system like single-payer.”
Michael Lighty, who is NUHW’s representative on the Healthy California Now executive board, and the organization’s president, called the new law, “a groundbreaking step toward guaranteeing high-quality healthcare for all Californians.”
What the bill would do
SB 770 advances the work of Gov. Newsom’s Healthy California For All Commission, which found that transitioning to a healthcare system envisioned by the bill would avert 4,000 deaths per year, and save Californians $158 billion per year in healthcare spending by 2031.
Newsom’s commission concluded that a unified financing system, which could include a single-payer, Medicare for All-style system, would:
Guarantee all California residents a comprehensive package of healthcare benefits including behavioral health care, and potentially long-term care and support services.
Eliminate disparities between Medicare, Medi-Cal, employer-sponsored insurance, and individual market coverage.
To put the commission’s recommendations into action, SB 770 directs California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services to pursue discussions with federal authorities regarding the potential terms of waivers necessary for California to secure its full share of federal healthcare funds for the new system. The agency would be required to:
Present a detailed draft report for legislative review and public comment by June 1, 2025, and
Publish a final plan by November 1, 2025 so that it could move forward with formal federal waiver applications in early 2026.
SB 770 is backed by a broad coalition of healthcare advocates, labor unions and community-based organizations representing seniors, low-income Californians, and immigrant communities. In addition to NUHW, the coalition members includes Health Access California, Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Academy of Family Physicians, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, UNITE HERE, California Federation of Teachers, SEIU California, California Conference of Machinists, and the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council.
“The passage of SB 770 is an important milestone in the fight for transformational healthcare reform,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said. “Our current healthcare system is much too fragmented and expensive, putting potentially life-saving care out of reach for too many Californians. We’re excited to continue working with our allies to build an ethical healthcare system that covers everyone and eliminates the wasteful spending that harms patients and workers.”