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From the President

Dr. Sandra R. Hernández has led the California Health Care Foundation since January 2014. In her monthly column she reflects on her experiences as a physician and philanthropic leader to comment on current events through the lenses of CHCF's goals, initiatives, research, and projects.

  1. How CHCF Is Responding to the Changing Landscape

    Sandra R. Hernández, President & Chief Executive Officer
    Sandra Hernandez
    Sandra R. Hernández

    The inauguration of Donald Trump as our next president seems likely to bring significant change to the health care system. While we at the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) can only guess how the story will play out, the intense debate highlights to us that the foundation's core mission — improving the health and care of all Californians, especially the underserved — is more important than ever.

    We are proud of California's gains from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Five million more Californians are now covered, the uninsured rate has been cut in half, financial stability has increased for families and health care institutions, and thousands of jobs have been created.

  2. Thank You, California Voters

    Sandra R. Hernández, President & Chief Executive Officer
    Sandra Hernandez
    Sandra R. Hernández

    The health care agenda is certain to be dominated for some time by the national debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but I want to take a moment to recognize several important state and local health policies that were overwhelmingly backed by California voters.

    While some on the national scene favor a rollback in the public commitment to health care for all, Californians stepped up on November 8 and demonstrated strong support for low-income communities having reliable access to health care when and where they need it. California voters also demonstrated they understand that growing consumption of sugary drinks and widespread use of tobacco products increase the disease burden on our families and the health care system that cares for them. Please note that the California Health Care Foundation does not take positions on ballot initiatives nor do we work to support or oppose any initiatives.

  3. This Is the Moment for California Latinos to Vote for Stronger, Healthier Communities

    Sandra R. Hernández, President & Chief Executive Officer
    Sandra Hernandez
    Sandra R. Hernández

    I've voted in every election since I turned 18 but none more consequential than this one. The contest for the White House features candidates with drastically divergent visions for the future of the American health care system and for how best to address economic inequality. In addition, the California statewide ballot includes 17 propositions on issues of concern to every state resident. These include several initiatives that will affect health care for millions of people — especially those enrolled in Medi-Cal. Latinos can exert a powerful influence on the outcomes of these contests, but only if each and every one of us vote.

    Our foundation's mission is to help California develop a health care system that works for everyone, and the Medi-Cal program is a linchpin of these efforts. Because 52% of Medi-Cal enrollees are Latino, the 2016 election will determine state and national health care policies of vital interest to our community. These policies will affect Medi-Cal funding and the extent to which undocumented people will be eligible to enroll in public programs.

  4. Turning the Tide on California's Opioid Epidemic

    Sandra R. Hernández, President & Chief Executive Officer
    Sandra Hernandez
    Sandra R. Hernández

    Last week, the US surgeon general sent me a letter. In fact, Dr. Vivek Murthy sent a letter to every one of the more than 900,000 doctors in the United States, asking us to help end the opioid overdose epidemic that now kills more people each year than traffic accidents. His call for us to commit to "turn the tide" on the epidemic hit home for me, both as a physician and as CEO of the California Health Care Foundation, where we are supporting a multipronged effort to fight opioid addiction in our state of 40 million people.

    "We arrived at this place on a path paved with good intentions," writes Dr. Murthy. I can attest to this, as can my colleague at CHCF, the architect of our opioid safety work, Kelly Pfeifer, MD.

    For decades, we clinicians took mandatory classes informing us about the need to regularly assess patients for pain and imploring us not to undertreat pain. Today we know so much more about the biologic processes that cause pain. We also know a great deal more about the neurobiology of addiction and the impact of high-dose, long-term opioid use on the brain's ability to manage stress, pain, and daily functions. As physicians, we want to help patients suffering from chronic pain. But while the promise of long-term benefit from these opioids rarely materialized, addiction and other opioid-related medical problems often did.

  5. Moving Medi-Cal Forward — Together

    Sandra R. Hernández, President & Chief Executive Officer
    Sandra Hernandez
    Sandra R. Hernández

    On July 13 CHCF hosted a briefing in Sacramento on the future of Medi-Cal. More than 500 people joined online, in person, or by phone to hear a distinguished panel of experts discuss the findings and recommendations in a new CHCF-sponsored report from Manatt Health, Moving Medi-Cal Forward on the Path to Delivery System Transformation.

    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.

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