It was, of all things, a dispute over whether vendors in Oklahoma must obtain a license to sell ice that gave us U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ splendid observation on defining federalism.

“There must be power in the States and the nation to remould, through experimentation, our economic practices and institutions to meet changing social and economic needs,” Brandeis wrote in 1932 in his dissent to the case, in which he defended the purview of local government regulators.

“To stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility. Denial of the right to experiment may be fraught with serious consequences to the nation. It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Thanks to the good folks in that other Sunshine State, California, just such an opportunity has arisen in regard to the most perplexing economic problem facing our nation: the provision of health care.

On June 1 the California Senate passed a bill that would create a taxpayer-funded healthcare system for all state residents, including seniors already enrolled in Medicare, workers with private insurance and, according to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, even an estimated 1.8 million adults who are illegal immigrants.

The system, dubbed Healthy California and advocated primarily by the state’s biggest nurses’ union, was modeled after Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan. Healthy California would supplant California’s private health insurance market and be managed by a new state agency. The plan would cover almost all services and not require any out-of-pocket costs — no co-pays, no fees, no deductibles, nor insurance premiums — for all of California’s 39 million residents.

Estimates peg the annual cost at between $330 billion and $400 billion, with proponents arguing the cost runs toward the lower end. They note the state already spends about $370 billion on health care, which means Healthy California would generate a savings.

How’s it paid for? According to the staff report, employers would be hit with a new 15 percent payroll tax, with no cap on income levels, that would replace what companies now take out for their employees’ insurance premiums.

That would come on top of one of the highest state personal income tax rates in the country. For example, California levies 8 percent for those making about $41,000 a year and the rate climbs through various income brackets before settling at 13.3 percent for those making more than $1 million.

The bill awaits action by the California Assembly, so the funding issue has yet to be fully resolved.

As it stands, the payroll tax is expected to supply about half the necessary revenue — as the plan also banks on California utilizing existing federal and intrastate funding, according to staff analysts. That means taxpayers in Florida would help pay for health coverage in California.

At any rate, Healthy California’s costs are expected to dwarf the state’s current overall budget, roughly doubling it.

Critics note the plan has other problems besides new or additional taxes and a big budget. For instance, it would throw an estimated 500,000 or so workers in the health insurance industry out of their jobs. It also would eliminate competition for services since all providers would be paid the same rates, which would track what Medicare reimburses.

We think Gov. Jerry Brown should drop his opposition and accept Justice Brandeis’ observation regarding experimentation.

If it were its own country, California’s $2.6 trillion economy would be the sixth-largest worldwide. As the federal government’s own intractable debate over whether to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act continues, we have an opportunity to see how a single-payer system would work, or not work, on a broad scale. California could answer some relevant questions applicable to the federal model: Would it raise, lower, or control costs? Would this “free” service be a magnet for people, including illegal immigrants, or a repellent for those fleeing tax hikes? Would it simplify patient care, or overly empower government bureaucrats? With the demise of private insurance, would providers accept government-set reimbursement rates for all patients, and not just those already on taxpayer-funded programs, or would doctors depart for greener pastures? Would health outcomes improve for a significant number of Americans under a model borrowed from the Canadians or British?

Before we get those answers, the federal government should pull its funding so the rest of us are not paying for something for which we don’t benefit. But beyond that, and while the task could be daunting, should California become that “laboratory,” it could resolve much of the conflict that bogs down attempts to reform our current healthcare system.