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In the News: CalMatters Reports on State's Effort to Curb Rising Healthcare Costs

The state Office of Health Care Affordability's efforts to trim premiums in California is the subject of July 15 report by CalMatters. One the the earliest among health insurance executives who signed onto advising the state, was Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California.

For health care power brokers, the message was clear: Make health care more affordable or the government would do it for them.

“If in fact this commission can get the private system to perform in a way that is consumer friendly and provides access, over the long run it may very well obviate the need for single payer,” said Blue Shield President and CEO Paul Markovich.

Newsom, who had campaigned on implementing a single-payer system, was an early supporter of the office’s more moderate mechanisms. Deputy communications director Alex Stack said making health care more affordable and accessible was a “top priority” for the administration.

[Gov. Gavin] Newsom first introduced the Office of Health Care Affordability in his January 2020 budget proposal but it was sidelined by the pandemic. In 2021, Assemblymember Wood drafted legislation to detail the office’s role, but after legislators and industry officials failed to reach a deal, he announced that discussions would continue into this year.

“In order for this policy to be meaningful, it must include every stakeholder in health care, and they have all had an opinion about this office,” Wood said when he pulled his bill last September. “One amendment after another has been requested in an attempt to minimize the impact on them and shift the focus to other players in the health care system.”

Read the full story on CalMatters, here.