Gov. Gavin Newsom made guaranteed health care a central piece of his gubernatorial campaign some four years ago, promising specifically to deliver a single-payer system that would give every resident free access to comprehensive treatment.
In an April 2018 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, however, Newsom did what he’s done on numerous issues throughout his tenure as governor: He muddied his position by telling the newspaper’s editorial board that “it is not an act that would occur by the signature of the next governor. There’s a lot of mythology about that.”
Heartened by this obfuscation, Blue Shield of California and several health care industry super PACs made six-figure donations to his campaign — relationships that blossomed into tens of millions of dollars of so-called behested payments on Newsom’s behalf during the pandemic. He rewarded the industry’s kindness with massive no-bid government contracts that resulted in botched testing services and underutilized vaccination programs.
It’s unclear which version of the governor will emerge on the vital issue of guaranteed health care this year. One piece of a legislative package to create a single-payer system called CalCare, funded by a mix of tax increases, will reach the state Assembly floor by the end of the month. While many hope public pressure will compel Newsom to revive his promise, his actions as governor inspire skepticism.