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California Gov. Jerry Brown. Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Even in California, one of the nation's most liberal states, industry pressure and moderate lawmakers have stymied ambitious efforts to control health care costs.

Why it matters: As the national Democratic Party swings left on health care, California shows that even with strong liberal majorities, it's still an uphill battle to successfully chip away at the health care industry's bottom line.

Details: Even aside from California's failed single payer bill, more substantively realistic proposals have hit roadblocks, too.

  • The biggest of these was a controversial bill that would have regulated prices for health care services within the private insurance system.
  • That bill passed through committee in the state assembly, but then was shelved. It faced fierce opposition from doctors and hospitals, but the bill's sponsor said that he'd draft a new version of the bill next year, per the LA Times.
  • Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, told reporters last week that it's unlikely that lawmakers will come up with a bill that's palatable to hospitals.
  • "Any attempt to control prices will bring the health care industry out in force," the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt said. "Politically speaking, there likely needs to be some counterweight to hospitals and doctors for that effort to succeed."

An ambitious bill to cap dialysis payments also died, after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it late last month. The dialysis industry is now working to defeat a related ballot initiative that would cap dialysis clinics' profits.

There are exceptions. California has passed laws regulating pharmacy benefit managers, requiring a justification for prescription drug price hikes above a certain amount, and creating more oversight of health plan mergers.

Yes, but: California has so far had a lot more success expanding coverage and defending the Affordable Care Act than in controlling costs — widely seen as the next big health care debate.

  • The state has banned short-term health plans, and limited the use of association health plans.

What's next: California lawmakers will likely continue to duke it out over high-profile efforts like the all-payer bill, but they will also continue to focus on coverage-related issues, like increasing the Affordable Care Act's subsidies.

  • “The big question, I think, is going to be, how do discussions happen in the next two years to lay the groundwork for...the next administration federally?" said Covered California's Peter Lee. "Whether or not California pulls out its wallet...we’ll see. Will that information help thinking for 2020 and beyond? We think so.”
  • Some advocates are also hoping for a big change from Gavin Newsom, who's expected to win the governor's race this year. Newsom is seen as more liberal than Brown.

"There are now high expectations for what a new governor might do beginning next year," Levitt said.

Go deeper

FAA clears more planes after 5G fears

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it had approved nearly 80% of the U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports with new 5G services after fears of signal interference limited 5G rollout.

Why it matters: The FAA approvals will help provide more certainty after the agency raised fears that 5G signals could reduce the accuracy of certain equipment, known as radio altimeters, that helps planes land and take off in inclement weather.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton stock tanks on report of production halt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Peloton stock fell by as much as 25% on Thursday, following a CNBC report that the connected fitness company will temporarily halt production on its bikes and treadmills.

Why it matters: Peloton is viewed by many as a proxy for consumer behavior in the pandemic era, as its popularity surged when gyms closed and people wanted to exercise at home.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

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