Health Care is Hot Topic at Gubernatorial Debate

It's called Senate Bill 562, but it's got other names: the healthy California Act for one or single payer health care, health care funded entirely by the state of California.

And while it's been languishing in the state's legislature for nearly all of 2017 -- it's shaping up to be a key issue in the 2018 race to be the state's next governor.

"And today, 350 elected shop stewards of our members across the state will vote the unions endorsement," said Sal Rossellini with the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

That endorsement was at stake Sunday night after a debate between the top four Democratic candidates for governor.

"Bringing to the fore the most critical issues of our time, and those are the issues of health care, mental health, issues of parity, substance abuse, and of course the fundamental issues that define all others -- immigrant rights and workers' rights," said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom, the current front runner in the race, supporting single-payer for California, which would outlaw private insurance and co-pays for residents.

"Let's create single payer health care for all of California," said Delaine Easton.

Easton, the Davis resident and former California Superintendent of Public Schools, is also staunch in her support for 562.

"I want to thank you for being on the front lines, the front lines of the fight for universal health care. For the notion that health care is a right, but not a privilege," said former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

But currently in second place, Villaraigosa, while supporting single-payer, has blasted 562 for not having a funding mechanism built in.

Estimates put the cost of the Healthy California plan somewhere around $400 billion.

But advocates like Newsom say it will replace a health care system that the state already spends $367 billion on per year.

"I'm taking the big drug companies, who are flooding various communities throughout the United States of America with opioids... poisoning our communities," said State Controller John Chiang.

Chiang, state controller and and two-term state treasurer, seemed to argue against 562 when he said the state should phase in any health care plan it adopts.