This event focused on actions that the citizens and leaders of California could take to ensure that healthcare reform promotes affordable high quality care. It featured the release of the final report of the California Task Force on Affordable Care. Based on input from California’s healthcare leaders, this report includes a plan that will save Californians $300 billion dollars on healthcare spending throughout the next decade. The plan is founded on getting the best value out of healthcare for the people of California. Kim Belshè, Secretary of California Department of Health and Human Services, emphasized that health reform should not be limited to expansion of coverage, but must also take account of affordability and quality improvement. She was very complimentary of the report saying, “This Task Force is well positioned and well suited to bring an important voice to many of the important implementation matters that will come before our state elected leaders and our policy administrators.”
Several members of the Task Force addressed how health reform can also meet both standards of affordability and quality improvement:
Steve McDermott, CEO Hill Physicians Medical Group, urged California to “get ahead of the train wrecks” to reduce costs by focusing on disease prevention. A great part of the motivation for the Hill to join forces with Catholic Healthcare West and Blue Shield of California to form a new “virtual integrated delivery system,” was to better manage the care of their enrollees to promote wellness rather than simply care for them once they became ill.
Alvin Sockolov, MD, a Sacramento-based family physician, gave more details about how this partnership works at the ground level including pursuing better case management, pain management, and improving generic prescribing to meet the goal of affordable care.
David Lansky, President and CEO of Pacific Business Group on Health, described how a robust information technology infrastructure is a precondition for virtually everything in the Task Force report. Efficient IT use in hospitals enables quality, safety, patient engagement, care coordination, and the pursuit of population health strategies.
John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, provided insight into the insurance needs of small business owners and self-employed individuals. He emphasized the value of the exchange in health reform through its being a platform for choice, convenience, transparency, cost, and innovation.
Jean Fraser, Health System Chief for San Mateo County, gave creative and useful suggestions to improving community wellness. She suggested changing California’s food environment and shifting the transportation lifestyle to include more opportunity for physical activity.
Two rising stars in the state Assembly joined us to discuss legislative priorities for improving value in medical spending.
Nathan Fletcher, a Republican from San Diego and Vice Chair of the Assembly Health Committee recommended innovative solutions to affect people’s health behaviors and issues of access. He understands the stresses that occur for the uninsured when seeking care and has worked on a bill that places clinics next to emergency rooms to reduce costs.
Isadore Hall, III, a Democrat from Los Angeles, Assistant Speaker pro Tempore and Member of the Assembly Health Committee described his work on a bill that will make certain that children in Physical Education courses are moving 50% of the time. He also underlined the importance of increasing access to healthy foods in poorer communities.
-Aman Sidhu, Intern, California Program