A look back at the Newsom government’s gains and losses in the health sector
2018 Governor Gavin Newsom The campaign for the office was plagued with the decisive and promising language on health care. Newsom has come out strongly in favor of some form of universal single-payer care, saying there is “no reason to wait … I’m sick of politicians saying they support the single payer but it’s too early, too expensive, or someone else’s problem.
For nearly two years, however, Newsom did what most governors in the United States have done: navigate the COVID landscape and put other health concerns aside. Not only has the pandemic exposed gaping holes in California’s healthcare delivery system, it has disproportionately infected and killed the same populations that have long suffered unequal treatment: blacks, Latinos, low-income workers. income and immigrants.
Much of the Newsom administration’s energy has been devoted to tackling the spread of COVID. But as 2022 approaches and a November re-election campaign intensifies, the governor will likely be asked about his progress – or lack thereof – in a number of healthcare categories.
Lower drug prices
Newsom has long championed plans to cut drug costs for California patients. But at the start of his first term, the governor made little progress. According to the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, the median wholesale price of some drugs has climbed nearly 21% over a three-year period. In the fall of 2020, Newsom signed a bill that could eventually lead to the development of a state-run generic drug system, and such a system could significantly reduce the prices of some products. But it could take years to develop, and for now, Californians who buy drugs, especially prescription drugs, still face rising costs along with the rest of the country.
Under Newsom, the state health insurance program for low-income and disabled people has been pushed in a new direction, with nearly $ 6 billion in state and federal funds directed over the next five years to a specific group of Californians. The idea is to reach people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, those who often use emergency rooms (perhaps their only source of care) and people living in expensive institutions: prisons, health clinics. mental health, retirement homes, etc. The program goes beyond normal Medicare services to fund efforts like buying healthy groceries, paying down payments on living spaces, and covering some bills. Newsom is promoting the program as a program that will help people get off the streets, fight drug addiction and deal with mental health issues. But managed care insurance companies, not Newsom’s administration, will be the ones deciding who actually gets the help, and skeptics are already questioning that arrangement.
Growing population over 65 in California
In 2019, Newsom issued an executive order to create a âMaster Plan for Aging,â as its administration put it. With those over 65 expected to make up a quarter of the state’s population by 2030, the plan spells out a variety of compelling goals: housing âfor all ages and stages,â reducing housing costs. ‘equity gap for older residents and the creation of more jobs in health care, among others. Again, however, this idea won’t start to materialize until the next decade or so, and many of the more difficult questions, including how to fund it in the long term, are unlikely to be addressed until Newsom does. left the state government. The current dollars allocated to the project include permanent and one-time funds, which raises questions about the sustainability of the plan.
Universal health care / single payer
Newsom bitterly disappointed some who were drawn to his candidacy because he spoke about the single payer speech, in which a government-linked source would pay all health care costs in the state. Once in office, the governor quickly began to move away from this idea, using less specific terms like universal care or umbrella. Several organizations, including the California Nurses Association, are calling on him to take the idea seriously, and a single-payer bill from Sen. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) will be presented in January, forcing Newsom to declare his case one. one way or another. Newsom has advanced the cause of universal care this year, expanding Medi-Cal to include all low-income residents over the age of 50, regardless of their immigration status. This coverage begins in March 2022.
Whatever happens, Newsom will continue to be judged on his government’s response to the most significant state-wide health crisis of the time. The governor’s track record with regard to the virus is remarkably uneven, with sensible and aggressive health policies – early shelter orders, strict guidelines on businesses and public spaces – often disconcertingly overturned . Additionally, Newsom appeared to bow to the will for high priority financial backers, exemplified by its refusal to join an effort to order the masking of state prison workers (their union is a major contributor) and its unfortunate exploitation. from healthcare giant Blue. Shield, a longtime Newsom funder, to manage the distribution of vaccine doses by the state. With COVID still an unwelcome visitor and another harsh winter ahead, the governor’s willingness to make tough decisions to manage the virus in 2022 will be closely watched.
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