Republican nominees want to undo federal health bill

June 9, 2010

Independent opinion polls show that a majority of Californians back federal health reform, but Tuesday’s primary election results will put those surveys to the test this fall. The two business executives Republicans nominated for governor and U.S. Senate both oppose the federal bill and have vowed to try to undo it.

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has said she would urge the attorney general to join other states in challenging the law. And at a rally in Modesto last week, Whitman made it personal, calling on current AG Jerry Brown — now the Democratic nominee for governor — to bring California into the litigation. She complains that the measure will be an unfunded mandate on the state and a burden on small business.

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who won the Republican nomination to face US Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall, says she wants to “repeal and replace” the health care reform with a more modest set of changes aimed at increasing competition in the health care market, cracking down on frivolous lawsuits and making sure that no one is denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Brown and Boxer will no doubt defend the bill as the campaign unfolds. There will be many other issues debated between now and November, and the governor’s race will probably pivot on matters closer to home. But if the two business execs and political newcomers win in the fall, part of the message will be that California voters are not as happy about the new health care law as opinion polls suggested.

I’ll be following this angle during the campaign and looking to both candidates for more details on their positions on the issue.

–Daniel Weintraub

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