Lt. Governor, Insurance Commissioner Candidates Address Health Care
Candidates for the Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner have been touting their own health care reform efforts as well as discussing reforms for the future, several newspapers reported. The primary election will be held June 6. Summaries appear below:
Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (D) said he would use the lieutenant governor's position "as it's never been used before" to promote universal health insurance and fight global warming, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
All three candidates for the Democratic nomination -- Garamendi and Sens. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) and Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) -- have said they would bring new status to the position.
As insurance commissioner, Garamendi required two health insurance companies to fund health programs for low-income residents before approving a merger and imposed strict penalties on companies that he said improperly denied coverage.
Speier, during her tenure in the Senate, has authored legislation regulating the health care and insurance industries.
Figueroa has written laws to allow patients to sue their HMOs and require minimum hospital stays for mastectomies and childbirth. Figueroa also co-authored legislation to create Healthy Families (Bailey, San Jose Mercury News, 5/7).
- The next insurance commissioner will have to address calls for changes to workers' compensation reforms adopted in 2002, the Los Angeles Times reports. Employers have saved at least $8.1 billion since the reforms were enacted, according to a study released in February. However, unions say the reforms have reduced permanent disability payments to some workers' compensation claimants by up to 70% (Oldham, Los Angeles Times, 5/8).
- Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante (D), as part of his campaign for insurance commissioner, is trying to lose weight as "an example to others to lead healthier lives," the Times reports. Bustamante said, "Fighting the obesity epidemic will lower insurance costs." However, Steve Poizner, the Republican nominee Bustamante likely will face in the fall, said the campaign is an attempt to distract voters from contributions Bustamante has accepted from insurance companies (Oldham, Los Angeles Times, 5/8).