“Public financing was quite a coup on his part. I know a lot of progressives who believed in the principal, but not a lot of pieces of the bill,” Staples said. “He was very engaged in that.”
His first year in the General Assembly, Donovan worked on the managed-care bill of rights, which reversed restrictions imposed by health maintenance organizations, the beginning of a long series of legislation on healthcare that has become his signature issue.
There is usually a personal connection to things he is passionate about.
Donovan said when his wife gave birth to their son in 1982, the insurer, Blue Cross, was a non-profit and you could stay in the hospital until you became accustomed to the baby. A decade later, when his daughter was born, under for-profit Anthem Blue Cross, the attitude was “the baby is born, now get the heck out.”
Donovan’s push for something resembling universal healthcare or Medicare for everyone over 50 remains out of reach, but new components of a pooling bill that will help towns and non-profits save money will start to play out this year and he has again introduced one for small businesses.
In Washington, the candidate said his mantra will be “Social Security, Medicare and jobs.”
He said when his grandfather came to the United States from Newfoundland, he got one of the first Social Security cards, but he noticed his number was wrong on his paycheck. The family story is that the clerk in payroll said, “Pat, this will never last.”
“My grandfather said, ‘I don’t care, get the numbers right.’ He lived to be 93. My father, who was the only breadwinner in the family, was able to have eight kids and help my grandfather … without Social Security, he wouldn’t have been able to do that,” Donovan said.
With two wars winding down, Donovan sees savings in military spending that he said needs to be shifted to support the veterans coming home and a robust GI Bill to finance their education.