In any other year, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to add an estimated 700,000 immigrants without legal status to the state’s healthcare program for low-income residents would be a monumental lift. On Tuesday, it was painted as the “status quo” as legislators considered a separate proposal with a much broader reach.

A group of Democratic lawmakers are pushing a massive restructuring of the state’s healthcare system under legislation that would guarantee medical coverage for every resident in the state by enacting billions in new taxes to create a single-payer system. Assembly Bill 1400 passed its first hurdle during a contentious Assembly Health Committee hearing on Tuesday evening, moving forward legislation that has so far overshadowed Newsom’s proposal, but also faces significant bipartisan challenges moving forward.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), said piecemeal reforms have only made it more clear that the state’s healthcare system needs to be upended. Kalra said Newsom’s effort is a positive step and shows the state’s compassion by ensuring no one is excluded from the healthcare system based on immigration status.

“However, do not mistake compassion for acceptance of a status quo that ultimately is fiscally unsustainable, unreasonably inefficient and morally indefensible,” Kalra said Tuesday.

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