WATCH: Why This Is the Moment for California to Reshape the Future of Medi-Cal

Shot in the Arm podcast host, Ben Plumley and Sandra Hernandez pictured.
Photo: YouTube

Here at CHCF, we often look at other states for insights about what California could be doing to improve its health care system. Other states — and even other parts of the world — also look to California as a leader and a case study for solving major health care problems. When global health expert and podcaster Ben Plumley wondered whether California will show the nation how to expand accessible, affordable coverage to low-income populations and communities of color, he turned to Sandra R. Hernández, MD, to get the story.

Hernández has served as CHCF’s president and CEO since 2014. Before that, she worked on the front lines of the HIV epidemic, and she helped San Francisco become the first local jurisdiction in the nation to provide health care for all its people. Today, she also serves on the board of Covered California, the Healthy California for All Commission, and a National Academy of Medicine committee investigating ways for artificial intelligence to help — and not hurt — efforts to advance health equity. All these experiences give Hernández a unique perspective on the major challenges and opportunities in the health system.

Plumley is a Bay Area–based thought leader with significant public and private sector experience working on global health issues. He founded Hunuvat, a network of health and human rights experts helping emerging economies in Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia to improve their health care systems through collaborations with health care providers, insurers, and drugmakers. In the podcast A Shot in the Arm, Plumley explores how biomedical and behavioral innovations can be incorporated rapidly into public health strategies with the leadership and engagement of local communities.

In their podcast conversation, Plumley and Hernández discussed topics of critical and immediate importance to Californians, including:

  • What the legacy of COVID-19 will be in California, including the new ways that people get their care and how we think about health equity and mental health.
  • California’s unique efforts to improve the quality of health care and to achieve universal coverage.
  • Major steps the state is taking through the CalAIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal) initiative to improve outcomes for Medi-Cal enrollees.
  • How community health centers and community health workers are using new techniques to enhance the well-being of Californians.
  • Why health and social services organizations being able to share health information enables people to receive whole-person care.

If you are interested in the major issues affecting California’s health care safety net and are looking for reasons to be hopeful, this interview is definitely worth a listen.