GOV. DAVIS: Backed into a Corner on Health Reform
As many as 70 bills may hit Gov. Gray Davis' desk by Sept. 10, a situation that puts the famously "cautious" executive in an unenviable position, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In a recent interview with the Chronicle's editorial board, Davis professed an unwillingness to allow the issue to dominate his agenda. Referring to his campaign last year, he said, "Did you hear me talk about health care? Did you see one commercial on health care reform? That ain't my agenda. My agenda is education." He said a recent pair of meetings were an attempt "to find some common ground on three or four issues -- external review, liability. At least those two issues we'd like to find some common ground on." But the meetings also broached the financial status of health plans and new insurance mandates. Assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park) said, "We've been looking for guidance, and we're starting to get some direction from the governor's office." To make things more difficult for Davis, if he goes along with the Legislature on most health care issues, he risks alienating his carefully crafted relationship with the business community. Thus far, the Chronicle notes, he "appears to be approaching the issue as a business question more than a health issue." He said, "The health care industry is so fragile. It's teetering." Moreover, his chief administrator on the issue is Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet, a former Blue Cross of California board member. Angry consumer advocates point out that they were not represented at Davis' first meeting on the issue, and that he attended a fundraiser with HMO executives only days before. The article also summarizes the key health issues facing Davis and the Legislature in coming weeks. State Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) said opaquely, "The governor is committed to reform. The extent of the reform is not clear yet" (Gunnison, 8/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.