Peterson on Power of Health Care Industry

Professor of Public Policy Mark Peterson  spoke to California Healthline about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pledge to lower health care costs in California. During his campaign for governor, Newsom promised to lead California’s single-payer movement, eliminate private insurance and decrease the amount that providers are paid. Polls show that the majority of California voters agree on the importance of making health care more affordable. Powerful interests in the health care industry have pushed back against legislative efforts to reduce health care costs, however, and the COVID-19 pandemic further strengthened their influence. “There’s no question this industry has power. The real question is what they do with it,” Peterson said. ““They’re getting wins, and important ones.” During the recent recall election, health care executives helped keep Newsom in office by supporting his campaign. Newsom will likely face pressure from both sides when he runs for reelection next year.

Peterson on Payback Expectations Among Newsom Supporters

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke with California Healthline about prospects that unions defending Gov. Gavin Newsom against a recall attempt will in return seek stronger action on instituting single-payer health insurance in California. Organized labor made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, purchased ads and phone-banked to defend Newsom ahead of Tuesday’s recall election. “This is a crucial moment for Newsom, and for his supporters who are lining up behind him,” said Peterson, who specializes in the politics of health care. “They’re helping him stay in office, but that comes with an expectation for some action.” In 2018, Newsom made a campaign pledge to establish a government-run, single-payer health care system in the state, but it’s unclear whether he could deliver such a massive shift. In addition, if he withstands the recall, the governor will face competing demands to reward supporters pushing for action on issues such as homelessness, climate change and public safety.

Peterson Discusses Newsom’s Support Among Health-Care Workers

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson was mentioned in a Kaiser Health News article about support for Gov. Gavin Newsom among health-care workers as the recall election approaches. Although many Californians expressed frustration with Newsom’s approach to the pandemic, including closing businesses, keeping schoolchildren at home and mandating masks, health-care workers have credited those same pandemic measures for protecting them as frontline workers and saving the lives of numerous Californians. Now, health-care unions and trade associations have donated more than $4.8 million to the campaign to keep Newsom in office. “If you’re in health care or public health, the prospect of Newsom being booted from office is worrisome, especially if you want the state to continue combating the pandemic,” Peterson said. “I don’t think anyone who would be replacing the governor in the recall would be anywhere near as aggressive and might actually reverse the public health actions that have been taken.”

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Peterson Weighs In on Objections to Becerra’s Nomination

An article examining opposition to the confirmation of Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra cited Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson. Conservative groups are targeting Becerra’s long track record in support of government-run health care, calling it “hostile to our current system.” However, the article from Politifact and Kaiser Health News noted that President Joe Biden does not support “Medicare for All,” meaning that Becerra’s ability to advance it would be constrained if he is confirmed. Becerra is California’s attorney general, and Peterson said Republicans have a history of painting Democrats from the state as “socialists.” “They’re arguing it’s just showing the infiltration of the radical socialist California state into the federal government,” Peterson said. “But this is ridiculous, because there are not socialist politics, per se, happening in California, and often the California Democrats in Washington are moderate.”

Peterson on Lawmakers and Voters Breaking Away From the GOP

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to the American Independent about the decision of some Republicans to leave their party after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. While many GOP officials stand by Trump, an unusually high number of current and former lawmakers, as well as voters, are quitting the party, deepening its ideological divide. Peterson said that while the exodus is a break from the norm, the long-term impact is unclear. Continued attention on Trump’s performance in office might reduce his hold on voters, he said. The article also noted that party dynamics may change if GOP lawmakers struggle to get out the vote without Trump on the ticket.

Peterson on Unfortunate Politicization of COVID-19 Vaccine

Professor of Public Policy Mark Peterson was featured on Scholars’ Circle, a nationally distributed radio program and podcast, about the U.S. response to COVID-19. As cases spike across the country, newly approved vaccines promise some relief. However, Peterson noted that we have never been so divided as a country. “The emergence of a vaccine ought to be a positive for everyone, but instead it’s caught up in all the distrust,” he said. The incoming Biden-Harris administration is not getting the necessary information about plans for distributing the vaccine, which will be a significant challenge, he said. “None of this should be affected by politics or partisanship or polarization in the country,” Peterson said, noting that President Donald Trump and his administration “have made it all the more complicated by sowing distrust in people.” Moving forward, Peterson stressed the importance of “providing resources to allow people to make it through without financial disaster and support public health provisions at the same time.”

Peterson on Becerra’s Impact on California’s Progressive Agenda

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke with Kaiser Health News about prospects that California’s health care agenda will grow more progressive once the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, is elevated to the nation’s top health care post. In his three decades of political experience, Becerra has been a strong advocate of health-care reforms including a state-level single-payer system, environmental justice and protecting immigrants’ access to safety-net care. Many California Democrats believe his selection as the next U.S. secretary of health and human services will give them a strong federal ally who will help make the state a laboratory for progressive ideas. Should Becerra back a progressive health agenda in California, similar proposals could follow in other states, Peterson said. “California has pushed the envelope on health care beyond where other states are,” he said. “And that gives more capacity for California sensibilities and ideas to get into the mix in Washington.”


Peterson on Urgency of COVID-19 Coordination

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson spoke to the National Interest about the Trump administration’s refusal to begin coordinating with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team on a national coronavirus response. Public health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a coordinated White House transition is absolutely critical at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. Mishandling the transition could have “enormous consequences,” Peterson said. “How are we going to coordinate the rapid distribution of vaccines across the country? They need to be produced and distributed, and that all relies on massive coordination,” he said. Peterson also noted that the lack of personal protective equipment has continued to hurt many states and hospitals. “We need complete transparency in coordination” in these efforts to help protect front-line workers and the general public, he said.

Saving Face and Raising Money Are Behind Election Lawsuits, Peterson Says

Professor of Public Policy Mark Peterson spoke to Elite Daily about President Trump’s refusal to concede loss of the 2020 election. The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in battleground states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, claiming that the Democrats are trying to “steal the election” through fraud. According to Peterson, these suits have been brought without evidence. “Donald Trump as an individual just cannot accept loss, and no one around him wants to take on the force of his personality, internal hurts and capacity to lash out,” Peterson said. He sees the “simulated controversy” as a last-ditch effort to save face and an opportunity to keep money flowing into the Trump campaign to pay off debts and finance the Republican National Committee. He added that the GOP needs the conservative base in Georgia to “remain highly agitated and energized” for the high-stakes Senate runoff elections in January.