It would be nice if for once the governor of California put Californians first before worrying about people who chose to live in — or flee to —other states.
Case in point.
Medi-Cal is financed equally by the state and federal government per the California Department of Health Care Services website.
Walgreens accepts Medicaid plans which includes Medi-Cal.
Walgreen’s has 586 stores in California. That includes locations in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon
Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday tweeted the following: "California won't be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women's lives at risk. We're done.”
This came after Walgreens made it clear it "plans to dispense Mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so."
That means, of course, it won’t break the law by selling the abortion pill in any state that makes it illegal to be sold within their boundaries.
The announcement came after attorney generals in 20 states pressured Walgreens not to sell the two-drug abortion pill. They also threatened legal action against any pharmacy that does so within their jurisdiction.
California isn’t among those 20 states.
Newsom doesn’t care.
It’s all about the politics for him.
Those states, by the way, are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
The governor obviously believes he’s making a stand for abortion rights.
It’s clear abortion rights are protected in California.
But why would Newsom believe it is his duty as governor to undermine prescription access to 12 million Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal and another 1.7 million in Covered California to apply pressure to Walgreens to abide by a pledge to follow the law within states it operates.
He was elected to govern California. That’s a tough enough job.
Until he’s solved California’s abundance of issues using his office to fiddle in political battles in other states is akin to being a modern-day Nero.
Walgreens is the No. 2 pharmacy chain in California behind CVS that has 1,143 locations in the Golden State.
While Walgreens’ presence is about half of that of CVS, California isn’t exactly flush with health care facilities. That is why pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have stepped up to fill the void with critical health care screening services.
They also are the most accessible points to secure flu shots and played a key role in COVID vaccines.
So, if Newsom says California is “done” with Walgreens, that also means they won’t be doing business with them through Medi-Cal or Covered California.
Both use state funds.
And if Walgreens gets state funds via Medi-Cal that means California — according to Newsom — is done doing business with them.
Unless California’s Twitter-in-Chief is having another French Laundry moment meaning you can’t believe Newsom to follow through on anything he says or tweets, the governor just reduced the number of locations for Medi-Cal patients to get prescriptions filled by 586.
Tuesday morning, Newsom’s office issued a statement that "California is reviewing all relationships between Walgreens and the state. We will not pursue business with companies that cave to right wing bullies pushing their extremist agenda or companies that put politics above the health of women and girls.”
What they didn’t say is that Newsom’s office will pursue policies that will reduce healthcare access to California’s most vulnerable population because Newsom is irked at what is going on in Iowa.
California has the nation’s biggest illegal immigrant problem, working class people squeezed by the high cost of living, the highest homeless numbers, and more. Newsom has enough problems in his own backyard.
And that backyard includes the San Joaquin Valley.
Time and time again the overall San Joaquin Valley has been identified as the region with the worst healthcare access in the nation.
Newsom’s decree — assuming it isn’t just political posturing for a man who keeps claiming he’s not running for president — would actually help further erode healthcare access in California’s most vulnerable region.
It would be nice for once if Newsom at least acted like he cared more about the San Joaquin Valley than Montana where he has no problem traveling for as personal vacation even though he has ordered no state employees to do so based on policies he disagrees with in the Big Sky State.
And to be clear, Walgreens will sell Mifepristone in California because it is legal to do so.
That means no longer doing business with Walgreens would result in a significant reduction of access to abortion pills in California.
There are a number of areas where Walgreens is the only game in close access to Californians. As such, Newsom’s action has the effect of throwing up a barrier that those seeking abortion pills of any type would need to overcome.
This from a governor who last August clarified his support to use tax dollars paid by Californians to help cover some travel costs for out-of-state – residents to come to the Golden State for an abortion.
You’d think the governor of California would be more concerned about the distance someone in Delano in the heart of the country’s “New Appalachia” had to travel to find a pharmacy to secure an abortion pill using Medi-Cal than he would paying for the travel tab of someone from the Appalachia Valley to travel here for an abortion.
Walgreens on Tuesday made it clear, “Once we are certified by the FDA, we will dispense this medication consistent with federal and state laws. Providing legally approved medications to patients is what pharmacies do, and is rooted in our commitment to the communities in which we operate.”
Contrast that to Newsom’s politically charged Tweet.
Of course, Newsom probably has no intention of committing political suicide to cut off Medi-Cal insured access to Walgreens pharmacies as he implied with his Tweet given that is the biggest way in which the state does business with the pharmacy chain.
Instead, he is doubling down on channeling the former president he so clearly despises by adopting the blow-hard bully approach to governing by Twitter.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org