5 Things California: What you missed, CHIP funding, Monisha Machado-Pereira

We are still coming down from our 2017 SoCal State of Reform Health Policy Conference earlier this week!  It was a tremendous event.  Thank you to everyone who attended, to all our fantastic speakers, and to everyone who gave us feedback as we worked to create a great event.

We have quite a bit of original content for you in this issue from our event, and will have more to share with you in the next few weeks.  So, with that, here are 5 Things We’re Watching in California health care and health policy for December.

DJ 5 Things Signature



1.  Watching the keynotes from San Diego

If you were unable to join us this year in San Diego, make sure to check out the highlights from the day. We also have video footage of our event’s keynote sessions.  Our Morning Keynote Address with James Capretta, the Milton Freidman Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, provided a smart update of where federal policy is going. Our Lunch Executive Keynote Panel touched on regulatory response to the SynerMed story and looked ahead to where California health policy is going.  Finally, in the afternoon, we had an energetic discussion about what it will take to move health, wellness and health care in San Diego forward.

In January, we’ll host our Convening Panel for our 2018 Northern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference.  That conference is coming up.  It’s never too soon to start thinking about our next event! We’ll be back in Sacramento for our fourth annual State of Reform on April 26.  That’ll be right in the middle of the legislative session, well timed if you want to get your hands around health policy in the legislature. We hope to see you there!

2.  Podcast: Looking Ahead to the 2018 Elections

Our panel on the 2018 elections featured Walter Zelman, Professor and Dept. Chair at Cal State LA, John Hoy, principal at John Hoy Campaigns, and Mohit Ghose, partner at Ghose & Associates.  These three talk through the current political environment across the country and what we might expect with the 2018 elections in California and at the federal level, including the possibility of a Democratic wave election.

They also address the decreasing number of moderates and what that means for the future of our politics. Walter ends the panel with a great quote: “The stability of democracy depends a great deal on the willingness of people to live with losing.”  You can listen to the complete podcast here.  If you don’t want to miss a podcast episode when we post them from across our state network, be sure to subscribe to our show.

3.  An update on CHIP Funding

California’s CHIP program, which leads the nation in enrollment with 1.3 million children coveredpredicts it will run out of money by the end of this month or early January. Though funding for the program lapsed at the end of September, California has been relying on excess funds as well as nearly $692 million in CMS redistribution funds since October.

If Congress doesn’t authorize CHIP funding quickly, many states will have to stop coverage or roll back benefits for these children. But California is in an interesting position. The LA Times reports, “California is legally committed to keep the program going until late 2019, but the loss of federal funding — it received $2.4 billion for the program in fiscal 2016 — would blow a huge hole in the state’s budget.” Without federal funding, the state would have to foot the bill.

Over the weekend, Congressional Republicans released a short-term appropriations bill that would provide short-term funding for “emergency shortfall states.” However the legislature needs to develop a long-term solution in order to maintain coverage and avoid a budget crisis in the state. A House vote on the short-term budget bill is expected to take place later today.

4.  Video: Monisha Machado-Pereira of McKinsey

Monisha Machado-Pereira is a partner at McKinsey & Company where she currently leads the firm’s Medicare work within their Health Systems and Services Practice. She joins us for this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss three imperatives that she believes will help improve health care sustainability.

“As impossible as [implementing these imperatives] sounds, and as painful as it is definitely going to be, it really does warrant tackling because our conservative estimates are that if there’s widespread adoption of best practice across even the first two imperatives, you’re looking at reducing national health expenditure by $300-500 billion a year. And reducing the growth of those expenditures by 30 percent. So it’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor.”

5.  Housing for Health program saves LA County money

A new study evaluating LA County’s Housing for Health (HFH) program shows that so far, HFH is both saving the county money and improving the health of those who benefit from it. The study shows that for every dollar invested into supportive housing, the LA County government is saving $1.20 in health care and social service costs. When housed, health care costs dropped substantially because clients’ use of the emergency room, inpatient care, and other medical and mental health services decreased significantly.

“These savings are substantially higher than what has been seen in other cities and suggest that Los Angeles County officials have succeeded in implementing this model,” said Sarah Hunter, lead author of the study. “Oftentimes, these programs strive to ‘break even’ in terms of costs and only exhibit cost savings among the most vulnerable, while the Los Angeles program shows considerable savings across a diverse population.” The study recommends continuing the program and expanding to other populations in order to monitor long term costs and benefits.