California today is better prepared than any other state to take advantage of federal health care reform enacted by Congress. Now voters need to elect an insurance commissioner with the will and expertise to make this a national model for health coverage.
The commissioner will be California's point person to get residents the best coverage possible for the lowest possible price while maintaining a healthy business climate for insurers.
The clear choice on Nov. 2 is Democrat Dave Jones, the Sacramento assemblyman who has served admirably as chairman of both the health and judicial committees in the Assembly.
Jones' opponent, Republican Mike Villines, is a courageous politician by California standards. His principled stand in 2009 to get a balanced budget through the Legislature cost him his position as Assembly minority leader. He would likely do as solid of a job as the current insurance commissioner, Republican Steve Poizner, in fulfilling the basic responsibilities. But Villines is on record as opposing federal health care reform. He wants to use the office to emphasize reducing insurance fraud, a worthy but perennial goal for candidates.
Jones has a long record of working to rein in health insurance premiums. Most recently, he was instrumental in passing the legislation making California the first state to set up a health care exchange for the uninsured. He would do far more than Villines to see that consumers get the greatest benefit possible under federal reforms.
Outside of the governor, the insurance commissioner may have a bigger impact on the lives of Californians than any other elected official. This race is important. And Dave Jones is the right choice.