Health Care at Issue in CalPERS Race
Ballots are being mailed on Monday for CalPERS members to elect a trustee to the CalPERS board, which is considering strategies to lower health care costs for the pension system, the Sacramento Bee reports. CalPERS spends about $5 billion on health care annually.
Incumbent trustee George Diehr, chair of the fund's Health Benefits Committee and a business professor at California State University-San Marcos, said CalPERS should invest in new health care ventures such as biotechnology startups and urgent care clinics to create more effective treatments and reduce the number of emergency department visits. Diehr said the fund also should examine proposals for universal health care and continue working with public and private health care coalitions.
Meanwhile, candidate Howard Schwartz, a CalPERS attorney, said the fund's board "kind of lost its aggressive approach of trying to reduce costs." Schwartz said CalPERS should expand the regional HMO plans it offers and include more national health plans.
Candidate James McRitchie, a CalPERS watchdog, said he would support creating a health benefits trust with investment returns dedicated to covering most health care costs. McRitchie also said he believes decisions about dental and vision care should be the responsibility of CalPERS rather than the state.
Voting ends Sept. 29. A runoff election would be held in November if no candidate receives a majority of votes (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 8/21).