Panelists and over 40 other experts interviewed for the report agreed on a vision for Medi-Cal as a program with shared accountability among providers to achieve high-value, high-quality, and whole-person care. There was considerable support for the report’s recommendations, even as opinions differed about how to move forward and at what pace.
Now is the time for all of us to work together to overcome the barriers to achieving this vision for Medi-Cal. Fragmented care, organizational and financing silos, and reimbursement rates among the lowest in the country are just a few of the challenges we face. So much work to strengthen the program is already underway by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and state officials, health plan partners, health care providers, and other organizations. There is a tremendous opportunity to build on this foundation to strive for even more ambitious reforms.
One in three Californians now count on Medi-Cal for access to essential health care services. The program affects the health, well-being, and quality of life of millions. As we heard from the panelists, Medi-Cal is at a critical juncture, and we must continue to push each other to improve the system. We at CHCF will keep pushing and working collaboratively with partners to identify and advance policy and delivery system reforms.
I saw deep commitment at the briefing, and see everyday leadership and innovation across the Medi-Cal program. Despite the challenges we face, I remain optimistic about the future of Medi-Cal and its ability to improve care for its beneficiaries.
As CHCF considers how we can best contribute to achieving a Medi-Cal program with shared accountability among providers to achieve high-value, high-quality, whole-person care, we want to hear from others. To this end, we invited briefing attendees to rate the importance of each recommendation in Moving Medi-Cal Forward. The majority of respondents told us that integrating care for those with serious mental illness (68%) and investing in initiatives that address the pressing health-related needs of the Medi-Cal population with complex health conditions (54%) should be high priorities. And half or nearly half of respondents told us that focusing on data improvements (50%), revising managed care rate-setting methodologies (46%), and addressing workforce shortages (45%) also are very important. The report and this feedback will shape our work.
CHCF continues to build a robust portfolio of projects that align with the recommendations in the Manatt report. We are working with a variety of partners on issues related to financing, rate setting, data sharing, and the integration of behavioral and physical health within the Medi-Cal program. In the coming months, we’ll share more information on these projects and on how you can engage with us.
In addition, the foundation will focus upcoming articles in The CHCF Blog to explore the recommendations from Moving Medi-Cal Forward. I hope you’ll read and share these articles and send us your ideas. Please add your voice by commenting on the articles and by joining the conversation on social media using #MediCal4ward.
No single organization, government agency, or foundation can tackle this work alone, but I am confident that together we can help move Medi-Cal forward.
Dr. Sandra R. Hernández is president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation. Prior to joining CHCF, Sandra was CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, which she led for 16 years. She previously served as director of public health for the City and County of San Francisco. She also co-chaired San Francisco’s Universal Healthcare Council, which designed Healthy San Francisco, an innovative health access program for the uninsured.
Sandra is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. She practiced at San Francisco General Hospital in the AIDS clinic from 1984 to 2016. She served on the External Advisory Committee at the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences in 2016. She currently serves on the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Advisory Council at UC Davis and the UC Regents Committee on Health Services. Sandra is a graduate of Yale University, the Tufts School of Medicine, and the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.