Taking Stock, Moving Forward

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act and are well into the second year of full implementation, we have much to celebrate as we contemplate the long road ahead. California has been a leader in embracing the opportunity and possibility of health coverage expansion and care improvements. Hard-coding and institutionalizing the early successes and sustaining the gains is now our collective responsibility.

As I began my tenure in 2014 as CHCF’s second president, I joined a highly respected organization that had distinguished itself through the dissemination of high-quality, policy-relevant analyses and research, and the development of innovative approaches to care improvement. Over the past year, we have taken stock of CHCF’s considerable resources and reputation, including our staff and board expertise; our longstanding and deep partnerships with policymakers, advocates, academics, and delivery system leaders; our financial resources, which give us the ability to make grants and investments; and our position as an independent, nonpartisan organization. We have sought to identify how we could further sharpen and focus our work toward sustained and meaningful impact around our mission of promoting the availability of and access to quality and affordable health care.

Last month CHCF’s board endorsed three broad priorities for us for the next five years. These goal areas build upon CHCF’s strengths and reflect the rising importance of Medi-Cal as a source of coverage for Californians with low incomes, the opportunity to improve behavioral health care delivery and services, and the recognition that engaged consumers are key to system transformation. Our three overarching goals are:

  1. Improving access to coverage and care for Californians with low incomes (organized around coverage and navigation, safety-net capacity, and consumer-focused care)
  2. Ensuring high-value care that aligns with patient preferences, has been proven to be effective, and is affordable (focused on maternity care, complex behavioral health and medical conditions, and end-of-life care)
  3. Informing decisionmakers (provide policymakers and other decisionmakers with the information needed to change the health care system)

There is urgency in our quest to improve care, especially for those not well served by our current system. In more than 30 years as a practicing physician, I have seen pervasive inequality that confronts poor and disenfranchised people who want the opportunity to live without disease, and when illness comes, to receive care from competent clinicians in their communities. I have seen waste and inefficiency that threaten the health not only of our health care system, but also of our society at large.

These focal areas represent significant and meaningful challenges in our delivery system. Like-minded organizations and individuals are working to make improvements in each of these areas. While these priorities build on CHCF’s historic areas of expertise, our work toward these goals will lead us into new coalitions, new collaborations — new partnerships. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the shared purpose of ensuring access and improving care.

There has never been a better time for the foundation to deploy its people, resources, and reputation to ensure high-value health care for all the people of California. They deserve nothing less.