At least on Beacon Hill, industry leaders can count on the continuity Charlie Baker and his administration represent — until the popular Republican governor decides not to seek a third term. He is considered one of them, with an MBA and experience as CEO of a large health insurance company.
While Healy may not have been as sincere as Baker, she developed relationships with the business community during her two terms as attorney general. She punctuated her inaugural address with policy issues of close relevance to employers, Centered on building the state’s economic competitiveness by investing in job training, making community college free for seniors, lowering housing costs, and building a better transportation system.
Her nod to business leaders may seem counterintuitive given her role as regulator and enforcer, but it says a lot about her leadership style, says longtime supporter Beth Boland, a partner at a Boston law firm. Say.
“Her first instinct has always been to find practical business, community and social solutions before looking through the prosecutorial lens,” said Boland, who co-chaired Governor Healy’s campaign finance committee.
Healy has shown a willingness to listen and cooperate from the start. Exhibit A: In her first year as attorney general, she had to issue provisions for the paid sick leave law, passed by voters in November 2014. The law went into effect the following July, and business groups worried that some employers would not be able to update their payroll systems in time.
Healey is sticking to that date, but her office has introduced a safe harbor provision that allows employers who already offer paid sick leave until Jan. 1. Full compliance with the new law began in 2016.
“It shows an open-door policy that she listens to feedback and is always willing to listen and act when the time is right,” said JD Chesloff, president of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. A productive and collaborative relationship with her office set the tone.”
Healy, meanwhile, sees herself as “the people’s lawyer,” and is not shy about suing businesses if she feels consumers have been wronged. But her most prominent cases tend to involve out-of-state companies like CVS Health, Exxon Mobil, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharmaceuticals and Walmart.
Healey has gained national attention for leading the attorney general’s effort to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for harm caused by their marketing, manufacturing and distribution of opioids that are fueling the epidemic. Her lawsuit led to a $26 billion settlement with drug distributors that will be paid out nationwide, including $525 million to Massachusetts for opioid treatment and recovery programs.
As Attorney General, Healy is a familiar figure in the business world, speaking at events and passing legislation affecting employers and workers, such as pay equity. If she seems comfortable in that environment, there’s a reason for that.
During her public sector career, the Northeastern Law graduate spent seven years at white shoe law firm WilmerHale (formerly Hale and Dorr), representing corporate clients across a range of industries, including financial services, medical devices and technology .
Just before Healy was sworn in as attorney general in January 2015, I had have lunch with her and ask Whether she can work with the business community. She seemed to come out of nowhere, but after winning the race, she was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.
Healy knew what to say, and she kept her word.
“I know the importance of predictability, certainty, clarity and fairness in business,” Healy told me at the time. “That’s what companies, general counsels, boards of directors and CEOs are looking for.”
Some The business sector will remain uneasy about the Healey government. As attorney general, Healy made it clear she didn’t think the state needed more natural gas pipelines or power plants, but instead should invest in cleaner fuel sources.
Healy also took a tough line on Mass General Brigham, the state’s largest hospital network. In 2015, she threatened to sue the group over a plan to buy community hospitals north and south of Boston. Then in 2021, she wrote a letter warning that Mass General Brigham’s proposal to build three suburban surgery centers would increase health care costs. In both cases, the healthcare giant would eventually cancel those expansion plans.
Another looming point of tension in health care: whether the state needs to rein in insurance premium increases and cap rates again, as Gov. Deval Patrick did when he took office more than a decade ago.
No one expected Healey as governor to give the corporate world a free pass. There will be fireworks — there always will be — but she’s built the best relationship possible, one in which the parties may not always see eye to eye, but they know how to work with each other.
Shirley Leung is a business columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.