In anticipation of the gubernatorial debate tonight, here’s some questions for the candidates for Governor that I hope are asked, either by the moderator Tom Brokaw, or by reporters in the days and weeks to come:
* How would candidates implement the new federal health law? How would they maximize federal dollars and benefits for California families and businesses? Would candidates seek repeal of the federal health law? Would they reject billions in Medicaid dollars for the state?
* How would candidates regulate and oversee health insurers? Would they support rate regulation? Would they seek repeal of the federal law’s consumer protections? Would they allow out-of-state insurers to operate outside of California licensure and our consumer protections?
* How would candidates work to bring down the cost of health care? How would candidates improve quality? How would they encourage prevention, wellness, and public health?
The next Governor of California will have the significant challenge and opportunity to improve our health system, under the new federal health law. It will be up to the new Governor to maximize federal funds and other benefits coming to California, our families, and our businesses, and to be aggressive in the oversight over the insurers and the health industry.
The next Governor will deal with health care whether he or she talks about it in the campaign or not–it’s an essential part of California’s economy, our budget, and our lives. Health care is the second biggest part of the California budget–second only to education–so if we are cutting the budget, we are cutting education and health care.
Insurance regulation has been entirely an issue overseen at the state level, until this year. Health care is a primary responsibility of the states, and is an area where Governors can have their biggest impacts.
California has one of the worst health crises in the country, with one of the largest percentage of uninsured, of people not getting coverage through work, and of people being denied for pre-existing conditions. The federal health law will provide some direct relief, but to do so it will require a thoughtful implementation. Voters should know what the next Governor plans to do to in an area where he or she will have considerable authority.