Governor-elect meeting to discuss health care agenda

With the election of Governor-elect Gavin Newsom what’s up next for health care in California? According to a POLITICO report, 50 consumer and labor groups, many of which were part of the Care4All California coalition, will gather at a private meeting Friday in Sacramento. The group was launched in March in an effort to drive legislation to expand and improve health care in the state and is anticipated to start planning the agenda for next year’s legislative session under the new administration.

Anthony Wright, head of Health Access California and a leader of the coalition indicated that beginning the process just after the election “speaks to the seriousness and interest in moving this agenda early in the new year with a new governor.”  Several of the groups’ key access-related goals failed to pass in the legislature last session including, AB 2965/SB 974 expanding Medi-Cal to all income-eligible adults, regardless of immigration status, and AB 2459 increasing state-funded subsides to make coverage more affordable.

In the primaries, Governor-elect Newsom largely ran on health care, with the single-payer discussions rising to the top. Though he hasn’t withdrawn his support for single-payer healthcare, he has backed off as cost estimates indicated a more staggering price tag than first anticipated.  Further, most proposed single-payer plans in California would require a federal Medicaid waiver, not likely given the current administration’s hostility toward the state.

The Governor-elect’s health care agenda will be a critical focus as people watch for his opening moves.  However, given the larger political climate, the players meeting today are more likely to push Newsom’s on measures to expand access, including to the undocumented, and lower prices.

Expected attendees include the California Labor Federation, Disability Rights California, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and Consumers Union and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. But, according to POLITICO,  industry trade groups such as the California Association of Health Plans and the California Hospital Association will be absent. Also notably expected to be absent, the California Nurses Association, the primary driver behind last year’s single payer legislation.