Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday unveiled his first state budget, one that leads California down a very different health-care path than the one Washington has forged.
The progressive blueprint embraces a state health insurance mandate, beefed-up insurance subsidies, coverage for undocumented immigrants, and six months of paid parental leave—not unexpected from a Democrat who campaigned on expanding health care and criticized President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans for eroding the Affordable Care Act.
The new governor declared his $209 billion state budget proposal, of which health care accounts for nearly 30 percent, “a reflection of our values.”
Newsom’s 2019-20 budget plan is just the starting point. He must negotiate with the legislature on a final budget by June 15—so some of these proposals are certain to change or be eliminated.
“These are first-in-the-nation, new steps to provide new help for people to afford access and coverage,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. “That’s a good thing.”
Lee Ohanian, a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and an economics professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, countered that California would need to cut costs if it wants pay for Newsom’s initiatives.
“Newsom has a long list of very expensive things he would like to do,” Ohanian said. “He’s going to have to take money from something else.”
While the Democratic legislature is generally supportive of expanding health-care coverage, there are both political and financial obstacles to the sweeping proposals that Newsom has laid out.
The governor’s plan to create subsidies for middle-class Californians, for example, relies on lawmakers approving a financial penalty on the uninsured, which was an unpopular provision in the Affordable Care Act. Newsom estimated the