health care politics


All 9 Candidates For Mass. Gov: Where Do They Stand On Health Care?

Two leading gubernatorial candidates: Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker (AP)

Two leading gubernatorial candidates: Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker (AP)

Kudos to the Health Business Blog for the first full scoop on the health care positions of all nine of this year’s candidates for Massachusetts governor.

Blogger David E. Williams is not a professional journalist — he’s a health-care consultant and president of the Health Business Group — but he certainly seems to be first out with a roundup sure to be of interest to many in health care, the state’s biggest employer.

I asked him whether he thought this November’s gubernatorial election could be a bellwether for the politics of health care. “I think so,” he said, “partly because we have so many people who are so knowledgable about health care, and not afraid to say things.”

The election could have national import, he added, because Massachusetts is at a very interesting juncture: ‘We’ve moved well beyond ‘Should we repeal the ACA or not?’ We’ve taken Romneycare and brought it to the next level with 224 [the latest health reform law aimed at containing costs]. So we’re already a full step ahead, and now you’ve got people who are really looking to say in their first term: What goes beyond that? Can we keep universal coverage and get cost under control and improve quality?”

“I don’t know that this election will be decided based on health care,” he said, “but I think the discussion that goes on and the debate will actually ready the residents of the state for some potentially very significant and important changes with the new governor.”

David is planning a broad analysis of the candidates’ positions for March 18, but I asked him in the meanwhile what had most struck him in the nine sets of responses. A few points:

• Since you have so many people with deep health-care expertise, they really do apply their own knowledge and have pretty firm views in some of the areas. One striking thing is you have certain topics that wouldn’t be on the table in the national debate. The single-payer system is one of them — you see that with [Donald] Berwick but also [Steve] Grossman talks about it, and I’m not sure everybody else has it off the table. Continue reading