January 14 2019

There is a basketball expression that goes something like this: “He came out of the locker room shooting threes!”  It reflects assertiveness and aggressive tone-setting for starting the game by going quickly on the offensive.

It appears that our just-inaugurated Governor Gavin Newsom came out of the locker room “shooting threes.”  There was much for a health foundation committed to #Health4All to like.  The five things I saw that I liked the most:

  1. The Inauguration Ceremony. There are dozens of “little things” involved in the choreography of a swearing-in ceremony and speech – little things that convey messages and provide for tone-setting.  The ceremony, the music, the speakers, the judge selected for the swearing in, First Partner Jennifer Newsom’s poetry reading, and the Governor’s speech were inclusive, visionary, and infused with humility.  A clear message was sent that he intends to be a Governor for every Californian.
  2.  Expanding Medi-Cal for the Undocumented, and Premium Subsidies. Proposed in the Governor’s budget were two important ideas expanding health coverage: going to age 26 for Medi-Cal coverage for young undocumented adults and expanding Affordable Care Act premium subsidies in the Covered California marketplace.
  3. Lowering Prescription Drug Costs. The Governor announced a bold proposal to establish the nation’s largest purchasing program for prescription drugs, accompanied by a new bulk purchasing prescription drug approach.
  4. Creating a New Surgeon General Position. California must re-assert its role as a champion and pace-setter for public health and prevention and creating a visible leadership position to help steward a bold prevention agenda for our state –one that is framed and draped in health equity.
  5. Juvenile Justice Reform & Mental Health. The Governor proposes to move responsibility for the juvenile justice system from the Department of Corrections to the state health and human services agency.  This is a smart, humane proposal that underscores the need to view young people in our justice system through a health lens, and not as young criminals. In addition, the Governor proposed increases in the mental health budget for more services and training.

All of this and more, mind you, announced within hours of his swearing-in ceremony.

Governor Newsom has a boatload of expectations to live up: on health reform, early childhood, K-12 and community college support, the environment, and affordable housing, among others.  While it will likely prove difficult to satisfy all of these expectations, he has set the tone very quickly about aspiring to be “The Governor For All.”

We wish him well and look forward to public private partnerships to advance prevention and meaningful health reform.

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