Charlie Baker has filed to run for Governor. That’s no big surprise; in fact he’ll be a welcome entrant into the political scene. According to the Boston Globe (Baker depicts himself as turnaround specialist), Baker is following in former Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s footsteps:
Baker’s pitch was reminiscent of the tack taken by the last successful GOP candidate for governor, Mitt Romney, who emphasized his expertise in business and in turning around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, as chief executive of the organizing committee. Romney even authored a book called “Turnaround.’’
The Boston Herald –and Baker himself– say that he’s following the mold of ex-GOP Governor William Weld.
Actually, there’s no reason Baker needs to pattern himself after anyone else. Sure, Romney made the argument that turning around the Winter Olympics was like turning around state government. (Turns out it just meant he’d be ready for the next exciting job as soon as he got bored.) But Baker’s role in turning around and continuing to successfully manage a non-profit health plan is an even better qualification.
After all, Massachusetts is basically a big healthcare state. The cost of healthcare is sky high, we have near universal coverage that we’re struggling to maintain, and biotech and healthcare providers are major employers. The state itself is a big purchaser of healthcare and is responsible for administering a major healthcare bureaucracy.
At Harvard Pilgrim, Baker laments that there’s little he can do to influence provider behavior. Basically the hospitals and physicians just pay attention to Medicare –their biggest customer.
Maybe as Governor he’d have a bit more sway. Looking ahead, if he is elected, does well, and then moves on to seek higher office, I don’t think he’ll follow Romney’s path of disavowing his work in Massachusetts healthcare reform.July 29, 2009