Massachusetts Governor’s race: Their views on healthcare

Election day tomorrow

Election day tomorrow

It’s primary election day in Massachusetts tomorrow, and the candidates for Governor are doing their best to attract the attention of voters. Earlier this year I interviewed all nine candidates for Governor –including all five who are on the ballot tomorrow– about healthcare. I compiled the results in a free ebook. (And you don’t need to provide any contact info to download it.)

Healthcare is an important topic, and if it’s a deciding factor for your vote I encourage you to read and/or listen to the podcasts. We covered healthcare cost containment, disparities in hospital pricing, the role of specific state agencies, electronic medical records, expensive drugs for Hepatitis C, and pediatric issues.

Here are a few key takeaways, with links to each candidate’s interview.

First among Democrats:

  • Don Berwick is a firm believer in a single payer system. He’d like to find a way to phase out private insurance and replace it with a government payer. That’s fairly radical even in Massachusetts, but not unprecedented. Vermont is undertaking something similar. Berwick also emphasizes his experience running CMS (Medicare and Medicaid) and ability to lead and motivate a large government workforce.
  • Steve Grossman also believes that the state should play a strong role in healthcare, but he doesn’t go as far as Berwick in advocating a single payer system. Much of Grossman’s experience in healthcare derives from his career in business, and he’s focused on making healthcare more affordable for small businesses, which is a worthy goal.  He wants to see more resources in the system generally, and wants to address healthcare disparities as well as income disparities.
  • Martha Coakley aligns herself with the current administration’s healthcare policies, not surprising since she’s been involved in their development and implementation. She’s a strong supporter of the healthcare cost containment law known as Chapter 224. She also stressed the need to address mental and behavioral health issues and to remove their stigma.

The Republican candidates differ reasonably sharply from Democrats and from each other:

  • Charlie Baker, who previously ran Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, believes the state has enough existing authority to increase healthcare transparency and accountability. He’d address the issue of availability of Hepatitis C drugs by building on the vaccination strategy he developed in an earlier state government role. He’d also like Massachusetts to be able to opt out of the federal Affordable Care Act, since he believes that it’s messing up state reform in Massachusetts, which is something I’ve come to agree with.
  • Mark Fisher is refreshing for the bluntness of his stances: no to government involvement in general, whether in transparency, support of electronic medical records, or overall healthcare reform. He does make an exception on Hepatitis C, where he says the government has a role in prevention. At the same time, Fisher expresses the classic anti-big business attitude of a Tea Party candidate. In particular he opposes the way health insurers treated him as a small businessman.

The general election will also feature healthcare businessman Evan Falchuk from the United Independent Party and Jeff McCormick, an independent candidate whose investments include healthcare businesses.

photo credit: secretlondon123 via photopin cc

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams of the Health Business Group

 

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