Of Samantha Young

SACRAMENTO – Californians upset by Governor Gavin Newsom’s pandemic rules – shops closed, schoolchildren kept home, and masks required – helped fuel the September recall election that could mark the end of his political career.

But allies rushing to stand in Newsom’s defense include doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health care interests who recognize these pandemic measures for protecting them as frontline workers and saving the lives of countless Californians.

According to a KHN analysis of campaign funding filings filed with California’s Secretary of State, their unions and trade associations had issued checks totaling more than $ 4.8 million by 10 a.m. Friday to help keep the Democrat in office during his first term.

Even before Covid-19, Newsom was a staunch advocate and ally in the healthcare industry, adopting guidelines that expanded health benefits and coverage to hundreds of thousands of Californians – and filling the pockets of the industry in the process.

“He has done so much in the California healthcare community for the benefit of patients and providers of all kinds,” said Andrew Kelly, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at California State University-East Bay. “It’s good for healthcare as well as our community – and improves access to care and outcomes.”

The Californians will decide on September 14th whether to call Newsom back on a vote that will also ask them to select his replacement from a list of 46 candidates. If more than 50% of voters vote “yes” to get Newsom, the candidate with the most votes will replace him.

The recall election offers Republicans in blue California – where Democrats hold state office and control the legislature – their best chance of winning the governor’s office. The highest profile GOP nominees are businessman John Cox, conservative talk show host Larry Elder, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, suburb of Kevin Kiley Sacramento, and former Congressman Doug Ose.

ON opinion poll The institute, released Tuesday by the University of California-Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, found that 47% of likely voters said they were in favor of the removal of Newsom, compared with 50% who opposed the removal of the governor.

Newsom’s backers have allocated more than $ 40 million to the fight against the recall, compared to nearly $ 12 million from recall backers, including $ 5 million from Cox for his own campaign.

The health contributions to combat the recall are a fraction of the total, but they are wide-ranging: health unions, dentists, doctors, pharmacists, insurance, at least one hospital, and others have made great contributions to independence campaign committees established by Newsom supporters and can accept unlimited donations.

The health group that donated the most with $ 2.25 million is the 2015 Service Employees International Union (and dentists employed by the state and some counties) and $ 500,000 from the California Dental Association. These groups either declined telephone interviews or did not respond to requests for comments.

In a statement emailed in 2015, the SEIU did not address its sizeable contributions but said it intended to “mobilize our mostly black, brown and immigrant caregivers, who have been on the forefront of this pandemic, to have their voices heard when we go door to door. Out door, by phone, and online to encourage a vote against the recall.

An email statement from the California Dental Association stated: Political Action Committee “We attach great importance to supporting candidates who are interested in solving the challenges facing the dental profession and their patients.”

Republican candidates have not received large donations – defined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission as $ 1,000 or more – from organized health groups, which Gov. Kiley says shows just how familiar the governor is with the industry.

“They have self-interests doing whatever they can to get the governor to do what they want,” said Kiley, one of two members of the congregation who sues Newsom last year for using his emergency powers during a pandemic. “He takes money from everyone.”

The multiple health care interests that Newsom defends are not always on the same side politically. In fact, they are often at odds.

But if you’re in healthcare or public health, the prospect of Newsom being fired from office is worrying, especially if you want the state to continue fighting the pandemic, said Mark Peterson, professor of public policy and political science of UCLA.

“I don’t think anyone who would replace the governor on the recall would be anywhere near as aggressive and actually undo the public health measures that have been taken,” Peterson said.

Sal Rosselli, President of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who represents nurses, drug rehab counselors, pharmacists and others, said his union’s 15,000 members are grateful for Newsom’s leadership in the pandemic – citing his first-ever home stay in the country, his assignment to hospitals last winter Test workers for Covid and other workplace orders that protect key workers.

“These are all examples of real leadership,” said Rosselli.

In January, the union set up an election committee to urge Californians not to sign the recall petition for political ads praising Newsom’s leadership during the pandemic.

Nathan Click, a Newsom campaign spokesman, did not comment on the money Newsom received from the healthcare industry, but said the Californians had a clear choice for the governor.

“On the one hand, you have a governor who has expanded health care for Californians and campaigned to reduce health care costs for families,” Click said via email. “On the flip side, there are a bunch of Trump lackeys who are overturning Obamacare and wanting to take health care away from those who need it most.”

When Newsom ran for governor in 2018, at a time when the Trump administration and many Republican lawmakers were trying to abolish the Affordable Care Act, Newsom called for a government-sponsored healthcare system with a single payer.

He did not keep his promise to pay and referred to insurmountable hurdles of the federal government. But he has signed laws and advocated policies that insured or enhanced more Californians, policies that also enrich insurers and providers by bringing them more patients.

For example, undocumented low-income immigrants ages 19-25 were eligible for full benefits under Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program for poor residents. last year. Next year guys 50 and older are eligible regardless of their immigration status.

For the more than 13 million Californians who have participated in the program, Newsom and lawmakers agreed last year to restore dental, eyesight and other optional health benefits that were cut during the Great Recession. And they increased the rates the program pays doctors and dentists.

Qualified Californians can also avail of government subsidies to lower the cost of health insurance premiums sold through Covered California, a benefit that Newsom approved in 2019.

The recall has given unions an opportunity to pressure Newsom to deliver on its payer promise, arguing that the pandemic exposed deadly health inequalities. For example, Latinos in California weren’t just exposed to a lot of Covid higher rates According to researchers at Stanford University, they also died 1.5 times as often as white Californians.

“We trust that Gavin Newsom is the person to lead,” said Rosselli, who has known Newsom since he entered politics nearly 20 years ago. “To make California the first state in the nation to set an example for the rest of the country to end these health inequalities.”


Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall election on September 14th. To find out what health care interests are contributing to and against the recall effort, KHN analyzed campaign funding reports filed with the California State Department by Friday, July 30th, 10:00 a.m. Every candidate and campaign committee participating in the recall must report how much money they have raised and spent. Any donation of $ 1,000 or more must be reported within 24 hours.

We downloaded and analyzed the campaign records of two committees set up in support of the recall, committees of leading Republican candidates and five committees set up to oppose the recall.