CA Governor Newsom Announces Major New Proposals to Prevent Inflated Health Care Prices

For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 9, 2020

Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)


  • Health care consumer advocates and other stakeholders cheered Governor Newsom’s budget proposals unveiled this morning to provide patients relief from the high price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. 
  • A new Office of Health Care Affordability would set cost targets, and hold plans and providers accountable for meeting those goals on access, affordability, quality, and equity. 
  • New game-changing efforts to lower prescription drug prices include a plan for California to contract as its own generic drug manufacturer, and using the power of Medi-Cal along with our state’s public and private purchasers to get the best drug prices in the world. This is in addition to previously announced efforts to set up a state prescription drug purchasing pool.
  • Renewed efforts to strengthen Covered California and the public options it provides California consumers.
  • While consumer advocates have been working on some of these concepts for months if not years, the adoption of these proposals would represent first-in-the-nation breakthroughs to address the health care cost issues that top the list of voter concerns. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a series of major health care reforms to provide relief to millions of California consumers, employers, and taxpayers struggling with high health care costs. In his 2020-21 budget, the Governor is proposing policy changes to address the price of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. Below is a statement by Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

“Governor Newsom’s proposals are potential game-changers for Californians struggling with the rising costs of care. These proposals promise some desperately needed relief for California families from the high prices of health plans, providers, and prescription drugs. We greatly appreciate Governor Newsom’s bold proposals to take on the big challenge of health care costs, a top concern of California consumers and voters.”

OFFICE OF HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY: “Health and consumer advocates strongly support a new Office of Health Care Affordability to set targets for our health system on cost, quality, and equity, provide tools to help plans and providers meet these goals, and demand accountability when they don’t. While other state efforts have gone after specific market failures and abuses, this new Office will take a comprehensive approach to health care costs. We are never going to get a more affordable health system if we don’t set that as a goal, and have consequences for not meeting that goal. With this plan, Governor Newsom isn’t just setting up new oversight over the health industry, but a moonshot-like goal and effort to prevent the inflated health care prices that so many Californians are concerned about.”

PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES: “Governor Newsom is taking on prescription drug prices with a multi-pronged attack, using the purchasing power of California to demand the best prices not just in the country but the world. While President Trump threatens to veto prescription drug price reform at the federal level, California is moving forward with cutting-edge proposals to demand the best prices not just in the county, but in the world. Consumers would directly benefit if California contracted on its own to manufacture much-needed generic medications like insulin–a drug that has been around for a century yet the price has gone up over tenfold in the last few decades. By focusing on public health rather than profit, California can provide useful competition in the generic drug market and ensure that the state is not getting fleeced when purchasing prescriptions for the millions of Californians in Medi-Cal and other public programs.”

COVERED CALIFORNIA: “Unique among health care marketplaces, Covered California actively negotiates on behalf of the public for the best possible price, standardizes health plan benefits, and seeks to hold providers accountable for quality and equity. We share the Governor’s goal to strengthen Covered California, and provide more and better public options for Californians. As we look forward to the work of the Healthy California for All Commission to plan for broader reforms, we are excited about more immediate steps like public options that can more quickly get patients the best possible coverage they urgently need.”

For more information on the history or context of these proposals, or of related efforts in the recent past, or otherwise, please contact Health Access California.