open menu close menu

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. 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.

    Here are some important questions that were settled by Golden State voters in the 2016 election.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Across the Tracks: To End Homelessness, See the Whole Person

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

    When you travel along bustling Seventh Street in Mission Bay, San Francisco's gleaming center of health science and research, it's impossible to miss the line of tents clinging to the chain link fence along the Caltrain tracks. The mini-village is one of many makeshift encampments of homeless people across the city — like the one behind the backstop on the city ball field at Potrero and Cesar Chavez, where children play. Or the one along the wall at Wisconsin and Eighth Street. Or the one in front of the murals on Florida near Mariposa. It is estimated that 6,600 of San Francisco's residents are homeless.

    Homelessness has long been a pressing national social problem; the desire to do something about it may now be approaching critical mass in California. In Sacramento, state officials are discussing a $2 billion bond issue to support housing for homeless people with mental illness. Around California, local law enforcement leaders are warning that efforts to reduce prison crowding are increasing the populations of people living on the street.

Explore
Connect