Health Reform and Making CA the Healthiest State in the US

Thursday, December 20, 2012

* Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force Recommendations Released Wednesday
* Covered California Board Met Tuesday, Set Ambitious Timetable for Action in 2013 
* Key Haelth Leaders Lay Out Plans for the New Year and the Legislative Special Session
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Yesterday, a state task force released a roadmap of goals to make California the healthiest state in the nation. The report, put out by the Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force, identified 30 priorities and a dashboard of a few dozen measurable indicators to track the state’s health.

The report highlighted the opportunities and challenges in reaching the “triple aim” of better health, better care, and lower costs. The task force was established earlier this year by Governor Jerry Brown with an executive order, and was co-chaired by California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley and Dr. Don Berwick, former President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and a noted advocate of patient reforms. The task force first met in June to discuss both goals and the public and private sector actions to reach those goals in ten years, and release a report yesterday to stakeholders and the media.

One strategic direction was “Health Across the Lifespan,” attempted to answer the question, “What will it look like if California is the healthiest state in the nation?” Specific metrics include infant mortality, vaccinations, childhood asthma, obesity and diabetes, tobacco use, mental health, palliative and hospice care, and advance care planning, in these categories: 

Goal 1. Healthy Beginnings: Laying the Foundation for a Healthy Life
Goal 2. Living Well: Preventing and Managing Chronic Disease
Goal 3. End-of-Life: Maintaining Dignity, and Independence
A second strategic direction “Pathways to Health,” to answer the related question, “What will it take for California to be the healthiest state in the nation?” Metrics include access to primary care, hospital safety, culturally and linguistically appropriate services, healthy food outlets, walking and biking, uninsurance, affordability of care and coverage, integrated care, and others, under the following goals:
Goal 4. Redesigning the Health System: Efficient, Safe, and Patient-Centered Care
Goal 5. Creating Healthy Communities: Enabling Healthy Living
Goal 6. Lowering the Cost of Care: Making Coverage Affordable and Aligning Financing to Health Outcomes

The task force set out ambitious goals, and many of these goals will be achievable because of new resources and opportunities available under the new federal health reform law, as California continues to take advantage of its work implementing the Affordable Care Act.

COVERED CALIFORNIA MEETING: The work of health reform continued into the holiday season in other ways, as the board of the state’s health benefits exchange, Covered California, met on Tuesday. A full rundown of the meeting is on the Health Access blog. Among other actions, Covered California laid out its timetables for setting up its service center, online enrollment system, outreach and enrollment efforts, and process for negotiating with health insurers seeking to offer plans in the exchange. All these issues briefs and timelines are available from the Covered California website for December’s meeting materials.

NEXT STEPS AND THE SPECIAL SESSION: Health Access California celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary two weeks ago with its “Fulfilling the Promise” Symposium, where key health leaders spoke about next steps for health reform implementation. They included HHS Secretary Diana Dooley, Senate Health Committee Chair Ed Hernandez, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Pan, and Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Chair Holly Mitchell. Video from the symposium is now available on the Health Access website, which was also covered by the media

California Healthline’s Think Tank asked some of these same state health leaders and others about the priorities for next year, including Health Access and other consumer advocacy organizations. Similar themes emerge from legislators, providers, advocates, and others, including the significant work needed to be ready for enrolling Californians in coverage in October 2014.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.