California Gov. Newsom Pins Political Rise on Abortion, Guns, and Health Care

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gavin Newsom is fed up with Republicans for attacking abortion rights and blocking gun laws — and along with his personal Democratic Occasion for failing to boldly and brashly tackle the conservative proper and push a progressive agenda.

And as California’s first-term governor positions himself because the nationwide Democratic Occasion pit bull, no different subject is defining his political rise like well being care.

“The place the hell is my social gathering?” Newsom fumed in Might because it turned clear that the U.S. Supreme Court docket was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. “Why aren’t we standing up extra firmly?” He later took out a tv advert accusing Florida’s Republican leaders of “criminalizing women and doctors.”

Over the previous 12 months, Newsom has lobbed a number of assaults in opposition to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — each Republicans — for his or her positions on weapons and abortion. He has taken to nationwide TV and social media to dub California an abortion sanctuary state that welcomes girls from across the nation — and is boasting about a November ballot initiative that may enshrine the suitable to abortion within the state structure. And he’s framing gun violence as a public well being disaster, saying that Democrats have to extra aggressively problem Republicans to enact sweeping gun security legal guidelines.

“It’s time to place them on the protection — we’re sick and bored with being on the protection,” Newsom stated in late July as he signed a regulation that enables Californians to sue gun-makers for negligence, a regulation modeled after a Texas regulation permitting non-public residents to sue abortion suppliers or those that assist girls in search of an abortion.

Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, can also be hitting the airwaves to tout his well being care accomplishments. He’s crowing about expanding health care protection to hundreds of thousands of beforehand uninsured Californians — a holy grail subject for Democrats agitating for common well being care — and California’s try to pressure down drug costs by coming into the generic drug market. He additionally argues that, on his watch, California has led the nation in its response to the covid-19 pandemic, pointing to his determination to impose the primary statewide stay-at-home order within the nation, in March 2020.

Political strategists and nationwide well being care consultants say well being care is a profitable subject for the Democratic Occasion because it readies for a midterm election battle in November — and as Democrats search a technique to retain the White Home in 2024. They usually say Newsom could possibly be a powerful contender.

“You’ll be able to’t have a look at Gavin Newsom and say he wouldn’t be a really enticing choice,” stated Chris Jennings, a well being coverage veteran primarily based in Washington, D.C., who labored beneath Presidents Barack Obama and Invoice Clinton. “He appears to relish debates at a time when individuals are in search of a fighter, and he’s properly positioned, having notched some progressive well being care wins. However it hasn’t been on the expense of scaring away moderates.”

Newsom, who final 12 months handily defeated a Republican-driven recall try and is anticipated to coast to reelection in deep-blue California in November, denies that he’s laying the groundwork for a presidential bid and says he helps President Joe Biden unequivocally.

However as he takes to the airwaves and social media to boast about his well being care bona fides, he seems to be exploring a nationwide marketing campaign and is placing a spin on his California file. As an illustration, though he says California affords “common entry to well being care protection,” many Californians stay uninsured, can’t afford protection, or can’t get remedy even when they’ve medical insurance.

“His achievements are sometimes embellished, and pronouncements of success are sometimes made earlier than the onerous work is completed,” stated Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist in California. “And there’s loads of issues for individuals like Ron DeSantis to level to about California which are utter failures, just like the homelessness disaster.”

Polling reveals slipping help for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, additionally a Californian, and a current nationwide CNN ballot discovered that 75% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters need somebody apart from Biden to run in 2024. One late-June survey of U.S. adults instructed that Newsom may prevail in a normal election matchup in opposition to DeSantis or former President Donald Trump.

“I believe we as Democrats are standing as much as the suitable wing, however Gavin Newsom has a sure edge to his critique, and I prefer it. I believe it’s feisty, I believe it’s sturdy, I believe it’s fearless,” stated former U.S. senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who retired from workplace in 2017 however is working to elect Democrats to nationwide workplace.

“Well being care is vital to him, and he figures out a strategy to get issues finished,” she stated. “When the time is true, I’d be proud to help him.”

Newsom marketing campaign spokesperson Nathan Click on stated Newsom believes Biden ought to run and won’t problem him however argues he can elevate key Democratic points comparable to abortion rights.

“He’s main by instance and taking the battle to Republicans, making them personal how they’re taking away individuals’s rights and freedoms,” Click on instructed KHN. “He realizes that he has company on this query and the way the Democratic Occasion goes to rebuild.”

A spokesperson for Abbott slammed Newsom for ignoring issues on his dwelling turf, such because the homelessness epidemic and the excessive value of residing. The DeSantis marketing campaign didn’t reply to requests for remark however has lobbed related assaults in opposition to Newsom.

“Governor Newsom ought to concentrate on all the roles and companies which are leaving California and coming to Texas,” stated Abbott press secretary Renae Eze.

Newsom campaigned on single-payer well being care throughout his first run for governor, promising to “lead the trouble” to create a taxpayer-financed system that places the federal government in command of delivering care.

However in workplace, he has distanced himself from that pledge, as a substitute urgent a message of common well being care that retains the present system intact however expands protection.

“California is the FIRST and ONLY state within the nation providing common entry to well being care protection,” Newsom stated in back-to-back marketing campaign emails in late July. “We now have the strongest gun security legal guidelines within the nation. We’re making our personal insulin in California.”

However California just isn’t making its personal insulin but. And although Newsom has stated California affords common entry to well being care, protection stays too costly for a lot of low- and middle-income residents, and Medi-Cal — California’s Medicaid program — is riddled with issues that put care out of attain for a lot of.

“We as Democrats must be sincere sufficient to acknowledge that protection doesn’t robotically imply ample or well timed care,” stated Democratic strategist Garry South, a longtime Newsom ally. “The very fact is that beneath Medi-Cal they’re typically not getting excellent care that’s well timed and acceptable to satisfy their well being care wants.”

Since he turned governor in 2019, Newsom has expanded Medi-Cal to lots of of hundreds of individuals residing within the state with out authorized authorization. This 12 months, he accredited an extra enlargement to open this system, by 2024, to all Californians who’re income-eligible, no matter immigration standing.

Newsom can also be allocating billions to deliver social providers and behavioral well being care to essentially the most susceptible and costly Medi-Cal sufferers, together with homeless individuals and other people with drug addictions. And after a Republican-controlled Congress zeroed out the Reasonably priced Care Act penalty on uninsured individuals in 2017, Newsom accredited an insurance coverage requirement for Californians and state-based subsidies to assist low- and middle-class residents buy protection.

Regardless of these main expansions, an estimated 2.3 million Californians beneath 65 will stay uninsured, based on an April evaluation by College of California researchers.

Richard Figueroa, a longtime well being coverage knowledgeable who now serves as deputy cupboard secretary for Newsom, argues the administration has made nation-leading strides to broaden medical insurance however acknowledged that California won’t ever be capable of broaden protection to everybody.

“We are going to all the time have some uninsured, given the type of patchwork system that we’ve got. There’s no requirement that individuals be enrolled, even when it’s inexpensive and even when it’s free,” Figueroa instructed KHN. “We’re filling a giant hole within the entry piece of the puzzle.”

Newsom’s enlargement of well being care protection to all immigrants no matter standing can also open him as much as criticism ought to he mount a bid for nationwide workplace.

“Whether or not saying ‘I used to be capable of obtain this stuff in liberal California’ interprets to the remainder of the nation would be the query,” Jennings stated. “On the subject of subsidizing immigrants, most nationwide politicians have concluded that you would be able to’t take that place and win nationally.”

Celinda Lake, a political strategist who helped lead polling for Biden’s 2020 marketing campaign and conducts polling for the Democratic Nationwide Committee, stated Newsom may deflect political assaults if he could make the case that he’s offering higher care whereas saving taxpayer cash.

“Democrats are fired up, and voters don’t perceive why extra can’t get finished in Washington,” Lake stated. “Whoever is within the Democratic main, you’re going to must be for common well being care. And if Gov. Newsom runs in 2024 or 2028, he can level to what he’s finished in California to point out it may work.”

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially impartial service of the California Well being Care Basis.

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