Ortiz Considers Run for Insurance Commissioner in 2006
The Sacramento Bee on Sunday profiled Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), who is considering running for insurance commissioner in 2006, when she will have to leave the Senate because of term limits. According to the Bee, Ortiz has pursued a "health care-based legislative agenda," including legislation addressing stem cell research.
During her eight-year tenure in the Legislature, Ortiz has focused on health and education issues for the working poor, the Bee reports. During her remaining two years in the Senate, Ortiz plans to work on proposals to expand programs providing affordable prescription drugs and require health care providers to offer discounts to low-income patients, according to the Bee (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 12/12).
Ortiz last week introduced SB 19, a proposal for a state program intended to lower prescription drug prices (California Healthline, 12/8). Ortiz last week also introduced SB 24, which would establish minimum charity care requirements for state hospitals (California Healthline, 12/9).
According to the Bee, Ortiz campaigned in favor of Proposition 71, a ballot initiative to fund stem cell research that voters approved in November. In 2003, she wrote legislation addressing stem cell research that was an early model for Proposition 71 but did not receive "as much credit for the idea as financiers" such as Proposition 71 campaign Chair Robert Klein.
However, Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University-Sacramento, said that Ortiz can take credit for pursuing the issue of stem cell research before the Proposition 71 campaign began.
In addition, Ortiz "gained statewide attention" and caused "a minor controversy" on Dec. 6 when she introduced a bill (SB 18) that would revise Proposition 71 (Sacramento Bee, 12/12). Ortiz's bill would establish regulations for ensuring the repayment of the state's investment in stem cell research; broad financial disclosure requirements; standards for the oversight committee and other groups regarding conflicts of interest; public meetings; protections for women considering donating eggs for research; and affordability requirements for stem cell therapies (California Health Line, 12/7).
According to the Bee, the "biggest hurdle in jumping to a statewide race is building name recognition," and Ortiz is not well known outside of Sacramento. However, Ortiz said that recent legislation is part of her agenda, rather than an effort to attract publicity, the Bee reports.
O'Connor estimated that Ortiz would need as much as $10 million to fund a campaign for statewide office, adding that Ortiz's "very hard-working, constituent-oriented" image could be "very hard to translate statewide" without a significant amount of funding.
State records indicate that Ortiz has more than $411,000 in a campaign account, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 12/12).
In related news, KPBS' "KPBS News" on Monday reported on the introduction of SB 24. The segment includes comments from Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 12/13). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.