Breaking News
November 17, 2018 - People with rare cancers can benefit from genomic profiling, shows research
November 17, 2018 - NIH awards over $1.8 million to husband-and-wife doctors to test new breast cancer approach
November 17, 2018 - Four-in-one antibody used to fight flu shows promise in mice
November 17, 2018 - New approach allows pathogens to be starved by blocking important enzymes
November 17, 2018 - Higher body mass index could cause depression even without health problems
November 17, 2018 - Protein which plays role in sensing cell damage serves as new target to treat pulmonary hypertension
November 17, 2018 - FDA Approves Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) in Combination with Chemotherapy for Adults with Previously Untreated Systemic Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma or Other CD30-Expressing Peripheral T-Cell Lymphomas
November 17, 2018 - ID specialist input improves outcomes for outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy
November 17, 2018 - UT Southwestern scientists selected to receive 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards
November 17, 2018 - New clinical algorithm to help individuals manage type 2 diabetes when fasting during Ramadan
November 17, 2018 - Researchers identify LZTR1 as evolutionarily conserved component of RAS pathway
November 17, 2018 - Heart Disease Leading Cause of Death in Low-Income Counties
November 17, 2018 - Estrogen Levels Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
November 17, 2018 - Research reveals link between immunity, diabetes
November 17, 2018 - Research shows how to achieve improved smoking cessation outcomes within California’s Medicaid population
November 17, 2018 - New study finds less understanding and implementation of patient engagement
November 17, 2018 - New shoe insole technology could help diabetic ulcers heal better while walking
November 17, 2018 - New method to extend cell division and immortalization of avian-derived cells
November 17, 2018 - Australian Academy of Science urges parents to vaccinate children against meningococcal disease
November 17, 2018 - Hot water treatment may help improve inflammation and metabolism in sedentary people
November 17, 2018 - Researchers produce 3D chemical maps of small biological samples
November 17, 2018 - Must Blood Pressure Rise Wth Age? Remote Tribes Hold Clues
November 17, 2018 - Noonan Syndrome
November 17, 2018 - Interventions to delay and prevent type 2 diabetes are underused, researchers say
November 17, 2018 - Hackathon prize winner seeks to remotely monitor patient skin conditions
November 17, 2018 - Research team identifies Ashkenazi Jewish founder mutation for Leigh syndrome
November 17, 2018 - Gene editing could be used to halt kidney disease in patients with Joubert syndrome
November 17, 2018 - Study uncovers link between gut disruption and aging
November 17, 2018 - Teens more likely to pick up smoking after exposure from friends and family
November 17, 2018 - Nicoya designate the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine as the OpenSPR Centre of Excellence
November 17, 2018 - new horizon in dental, oral and craniofacial research
November 17, 2018 - How does poor air quality affect your health?
November 17, 2018 - New device can regulate children’s blood glucose more like natural pancreas
November 17, 2018 - Game-Changers in Western Blotting and Protein Analysis
November 17, 2018 - FDA announces new actions to limit sale of e-cigarettes to youth
November 17, 2018 - Warmer winter temperatures related to higher crime rates
November 17, 2018 - MCO places increasing emphasis on helping people find and access healthy food
November 17, 2018 - Group of students aim to improve malaria diagnosis using old smartphones
November 17, 2018 - Transplantation of feces may protect preterm children from deadly bowel disease
November 17, 2018 - Researchers explore whether low-gluten diets can be recommended for people without allergies
November 17, 2018 - New and better marker for assessing patients after cardiac arrest
November 17, 2018 - For 7-year-old with failing bone marrow, a life-saving transplant | News Center
November 17, 2018 - New first-line treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma approved by FDA
November 17, 2018 - Artificial intelligence could be valuable tool to help young victims disclose traumatic testimony
November 17, 2018 - Breakthrough in the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome
November 16, 2018 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for the Treatment of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Who Have Been Previously Treated with Sorafenib
November 16, 2018 - Eagle Books | Native Diabetes Wellness Program
November 16, 2018 - Patients with common heart failure more likely to have lethal heart rhythms
November 16, 2018 - How AI could help veterinarians code their notes | News Center
November 16, 2018 - Bias-based bullying does more harm to students than generalized bullying
November 16, 2018 - Researchers find first direct evidence that cerebellum plays role in cognitive functions
November 16, 2018 - Non-coding genetic variant plays key role in endothelial function and disease incidence
November 16, 2018 - EMA recommends first all-oral treatment to tackle deadly sleeping sickness
November 16, 2018 - Drug used to treat dizziness may slow down growth of triple-negative breast cancer
November 16, 2018 - AHA: Icosapent Ethyl Cuts CV Risk From Elevated Triglycerides
November 16, 2018 - ‘Orphan’ RNAs make cancer deadlier, but potentially easier to diagnose
November 16, 2018 - Air Cube touches down at hospital | News Center
November 16, 2018 - CRISPR-based tool shown to enhance cell-based immunotherapy
November 16, 2018 - Mechanisms that govern HIV latency differ in the gut and blood, finds study
November 16, 2018 - Researchers unravel mystery of NPM1 protein in acute myeloid leukemia
November 16, 2018 - High school students less likely to select milk, fruit for lunch when fruit juice is available
November 16, 2018 - Football coaches with great emotional competence are more successful
November 16, 2018 - Researchers awarded $10 million grant to address root causes of asthma in Puerto Rico
November 16, 2018 - Personalized scheduling of radiotherapy using genetic data could reduce side effects
November 16, 2018 - American Cancer Society study links social isolation to higher mortality risk
November 16, 2018 - Health Tip: Manage Morning Sickness
November 16, 2018 - Long term exposure to road traffic noise linked with greater obesity risk
November 16, 2018 - Infant gut microbes altered by mother’s obesity may increase risk for future disease
November 16, 2018 - Immunotherapy combination and chemotherapy show encouraging results in Phase II acute myeloid leukemia study
November 16, 2018 - ACC Latin America Conference brings experts to discuss latest cardiovascular science
November 16, 2018 - Pooled analysis of Intersect ENT’s steroid releasing implants in patients after frontal sinus surgery to be published
November 16, 2018 - Expectations about pain intensity can become self-fulfilling prophecies
November 16, 2018 - NIH awards $3.4 million to UC researchers to study gastrointestinal lymphatic system
November 16, 2018 - Highlighting Advances in Bioengineering and Analytical Technologies with eBooks
November 16, 2018 - Scientist Dr David Taylor of MR Solutions is a finalist in the BMW i UK Tech Founder Awards
November 16, 2018 - Earlier treatment could help reverse autistic-like behavior in tuberous sclerosis
November 16, 2018 - Sucking your baby’s pacifier could improve their health
November 16, 2018 - Vegetables and salad may include bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics
November 16, 2018 - Autism linked to prolonged connection between brain regions
November 16, 2018 - Endocrine Society chooses four Diabetes Caucus leaders as winners of Diabetes Champion Award
Gavin Newsom is bullish on single-payer — except when he’s not

Gavin Newsom is bullish on single-payer — except when he’s not

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Twenty minutes before the only scheduled 2018 California’s gubernatorial debate, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled into the San Francisco parking garage in a black SUV. Through the tinted windows, a soft overhead light slightly illuminated the front-runner’s chiseled features and slicked-back hair.

In a well-tailored blue suit and matching tie, Newsom strode to the elevator and casually leaned his tall frame against the corner, emerging on KQED radio’s third floor to banter with waiting reporters — the picture of a polished and confident front-runner.

Then, in gravelly tones, Newsom squared off with his Republican opponent John Cox, letting loose his inner wonk, delving into the weeds on all manner of issues in the Golden State. “If you’re looking for timidity, I’m not your person,” he said when asked about his temperament.

But not once did the Democratic candidate mention one of the most controversial pillars of his campaign: single-payer health insurance.

Nationally, Newsom’s support for single-payer is perhaps how he is best known — aside from his bold move as San Francisco mayor in 2004 to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, a prescient decision that then ran contrary to law.

Newsom’s backing for government-run, universal coverage has often been similarly bold, but other times it has been more muted, prompting conservatives to call him too liberal and liberals to label him too skittish. That dichotomy is likely a reflection of the political challenges he will face, if elected, even in one of the nation’s bluest states.

His notable omission of single-payer in the debate earlier this month could have stemmed from a tightly choreographed format and time limitations — but his opponent’s campaign immediately jumped on him for it, calling his past effort to create universal health care in San Francisco a failure of which he should be “ashamed.”

Newsom, 51, who declined requests for an interview, has at times attempted to dampen expectations, suggesting in July to the San Francisco Chronicle that the single-payer effort could take years. In part, he was acknowledging a practical hurdle: The federal government needs to approve the move if federal dollars are to be used, and the Trump administration is flatly opposed.

On his campaign website, however, Newsom has publicly called for single-payer coverage in California. Last year, he endorsed the amended Healthy California Act, SB 562, which called for covering every Californian, including undocumented immigrants, under one public program.

The bill stalled, in part because it was projected to cost $400 billion a year, nearly three times the general fund expenditures for 2018-19. But the California Nurses Association, which has endorsed Newsom, plans to sponsor a new bill in the coming legislative session.

Newsom’s supporters say he is committed to the effort — simply because he believes it is the right thing to do.

“There are some people who have health care coverage and others who don’t,” said Mitch Katz, director of public health in San Francisco when Newsom was mayor and an unpaid adviser to his campaign. “Everyone should be covered — for Gavin, it’s a fairness issue.”

(His opponent, Cox, dismisses the very idea. Asked earlier this year whether he supports single-payer, his answer was simple: “God, no.”)

Even some who respect Newsom’s motives see his goal as quixotic.

“I’ve followed his career and believe he is an individual of integrity who wants to advance meaningful legislation that helps people,” wrote Stanford professor and author Dr. Robert Pearl in Forbes magazine. “That said, in a state that’s currently struggling to fund its schools and rebuild its infrastructure, Newsom will likely soon realize that turning California into a single-payer state is too expensive a promise to carry out.”

Newsom commonly pulls out his health care bona fides, namely his experience as mayor of San Francisco, when the city spearheaded a unique, all-embracing health care system for city residents.

“I did universal health care in San Francisco,” said Newsom on a progressive podcast recently. “We proved it could be done without bankrupting the city. I’d like to see that we can extend that to the rest of the state.”

Healthy San Francisco is not a single-payer system — not an entirely publicly funded insurance plan. It aims for universal care by covering lower-income residents through a combination of city funds, charity care, copayments and contributions from employers. It’s not true insurance because it can’t be used outside the city.

Enrollees have access to a citywide network of preexisting safety-net hospitals and clinics. At its height, it enrolled 60,000 city residents, though enrollment plunged to 14,000 after the Affordable Care Act took effect. Today, undocumented residents make up the largest share of those on Healthy San Francisco.

Some critics on the left say Newsom took credit for Healthy San Francisco only after it was deemed a success.

“Newsom is claiming credit for something he didn’t really do and didn’t support,” said Tom Ammiano, the former San Francisco supervisor and state assembly member who was chief architect of Healthy San Francisco. “If anything, I would say he did his best to undermine it.”

While Newsom liked the idea of universal health care in San Francisco, he did not publicly support the requirement for restaurants to contribute to employees’ health benefits, according to Ammiano and others who worked on Healthy San Francisco. But the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for Healthy San Francisco, blocking any chance for a veto, and then Newsom signed it into law.

After it passed in 2006, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association sued San Francisco, arguing unsuccessfully that forcing restaurants to chip in on employees’ benefits was in conflict with a federal law governing employee benefits. “We went to court three times, and three times we won,” Ammiano said. “Where was Gavin? He never entered that fray. He never supported it, never did anything publicly.”

San Francisco progressives, like Ammiano and others, have never cared for Newsom’s pro-business stance (Newsom has owned wine shops and numerous other small businesses with about 700 employees), or what they see as his slick persona when he was mayor from 2004 to 2011. Among some circles in San Francisco, Newsom was known as “Mayor Press Release,” meaning he had a lot of big ideas but little follow-through.

The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters, a progressive political organization that puts out a voter guide, called Newsom a “substanceless glad-hander” who “has been flashing fake smiles, pretending to be progressive for the cameras. … He’s a machine-politics climber who claims to fight for the dispossessed but never seems to get around to actually doing anything for them.”

But even as a vocal critic of Newsom, Ammiano said he plans on voting for him as governor. “There is no third option,” Ammiano said. “I don’t believe in not voting, and I could never do Cox.”

A governor would face numerous hurdles in fundamentally restructuring the state health care system to cover everyone, including getting buy-in from the feds and confronting opposition from insurers and others invested in the status quo.

But Newsom’s supporters say that a governor, at least, would have more authority than a mayor.

“The state has much more power over health care delivery than the county of San Francisco,” said Katz, now president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “There are many more levers when you are the governor than when you are the mayor.”

Ken Jacobs, chair of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley and a member of the council that helped craft Healthy San Francisco, agreed.

For instance, Newsom could push to expand Medi-Cal — the public insurance program for low-income Californians — to include undocumented immigrants, said Jacobs, co-author of Universal Health Care: Lessons From San Francisco. Also, he could prevail upon legislators to institute a state mandate for health insurance and provide state subsidies to help cover the cost.

That wouldn’t meet the definition of “single-payer” but would tap a variety of sources to pay into a system that aspires to cover everyone.

Whatever approach he takes, Jacobs said, “Gavin Newsom took the issue of health care very seriously as mayor, and I would expect him to do so as governor.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles