Keep Your Eye On Morales

Earlier today I taped a couple of weekend "Eye On Politics" segments with Jon Keller that will air on WBZ radio over the weekend. In the Saturday piece, Jon asked me about Governor Deval Patrick taking his first big public swing at challenger Charlie Baker this week -- saying Baker has been "missing in action" on the issue of health care costs.

In my answer, I speculated that Patrick may be planning a serious push on that health care costs issue this year, which would be wise both from a policy standpoint and a political standpoint -- the latter, in large part, because every discussion of the issue serves to remind voters that Baker is a health-insurance executive.

As circumstantial evidence that this push may be coming, I noted that Patrick recently moved one of his top people, David Morales, from the role of senior advisor in his office to Commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, which, as the title suggests, could be where such an initiative would come from.

Morales is too valuable a guy to move out of the Guv's office to just shuffle papers and take meetings and slowly move the health-care-policy ball down the field. You move a guy like him there to make something significant happen.

Today, Commish Morales posts about a series of public hearings next week with major stakeholders. "Experts and panelists will discuss the feasibility of various strategies for mitigating health care cost growth – from both a policy and industry perspective," he writes. They will also discuss the reasons and realities behind the problem. I'm just guessing here, but I suspect that some of that testimony might cast insurance providers, like Baker's Harvard Pilgrim, in a less than flattering light.

Somehow, I don't think it's a coincidence that the week before these public hearings, Patrick made headlines about Charlie Baker's role in this area. Something tells me these hearings will be worth keeping an eye on.

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