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Newsom, Villaraigosa disagree about universal health care coverage
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The two leading Democrats running for California governor disagreed at a forum Sunday about how to achieve universal health care.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom defended his support for a government-run health care system at a forum hosted by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the Sacramento Bee reported .

However, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dismissed the concept, known as a single-payer system, as unrealistic and advocated for a public option that allows people to buy into the existing Medi-Cal program.

He credited Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for shelving a bill that proposed to replace insurance companies with government-funded health care for all Californians because it lacked key details about how the system would be funded.

“As governor, you gotta make the tough choices. You can’t just say ‘I want pie in the sky,’ because that doesn’t put food on people’s tables,” he said.

“What I’ll never do is sell you snake oil,” Villaraigosa said. “The fact of the matter is we don’t have a plan yet.”

Newsom, who supports advancing the bill, said the concept can be implemented under the right leadership.

“It’s a question of leadership,” he added. “This is what they said about Social Security and Medicare: ‘You can’t do it ...’ I’m not going to wait around for the debate to unfold in Washington, D.C. Sure, I support Medicare for all. But you got to shape the debate in California.”

State Treasurer John Chiang, who also participated in the forum, said the state should take an incremental approach to health care.

“We don’t have to go all in to provide all the services all at once,” he said. “Let’s make sure that what we are implementing we can scale-up appropriately.”

Delaine Eastin, a former state schools chief, said she believes universal care would cost slightly more now but far less in the long run. Eastin called the solution realistic, and she said it could be paid for with a gross receipts tax and a partial income-tax increase.

The Republicans in the race, John Cox and Travis Allen, did not attend the forum, though the union, which represents 14,000 workers in California, said they were invited.