5 Things California: Sen. Jeff Stone, Health care budget, Abner Mason

Things are busy in Sacramento as the clock ticks down to get a budget put to bed. Meanwhile, I’m in LA this week to host our Convening Panel meeting ahead of our 2019 Los Angeles State of Reform Health Policy Conference. So, you can expect to see a full Topical Agenda for that Sept. 12th event coming soon. I’m sure this year’s session – and some of the fiscal decisions made in the next two weeks – will have a big impact on what the agenda ultimately looks like.


DJ 5 Things Signature

With help from Emily Boerger
and Emily Viles.


1. Where the budget stands

As the June 15 budget deadline approaches, California’s 2019 Budget Conference Committee is working to hash out the differences between the Senate’s, Assembly’s, and governor’s versions of the budget. On Monday, the conference committee met to discuss differences among the three versions of the budget related to Health and Human Services.

Some of the discrepancies relate to premium subsidies, the statewide individual mandate, workforce investments, and Medi-Cal coverage expansion. Check out our rundown of the current status of the Health and Human Services budget here.


2. Want to join the team?

We are looking for a strikingly smart health policy reporter to join our team in California. And, since we have about 60,000 subscribed to our California email list, we thought we’d see if you might know someone who would be interested!

This candidate is probably based in Sacramento, but this position could be in LA or San Diego, too. You’ll cover the stories, personalities and politics of California’s health care world. You’ll be part of our West Coast edition team, covering HI, WA, OR, and AK — as well as CA. So, you’ll get a good bit of travel in. You’ll also play a key role in finding and curating smart, thoughtful speakers for some of our annual conferences. If you know someone who is interested, have them send us a resume and cover letter.

3. Q&A: Sen. Jeff Stone

Sen. Jeff Stone is Republican from Riverside, who serves as Vice-Chairman of both the Senate Committee on Health and the Senate Committee on Human Services. He also on the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. So, he’s got a view into a number of policy and fiscal conversations that are taking place in these final days before the budget is put to bed.

State of Reform Reporter Emily Viles talked to Stone about what he’s looking for in the final budget, his legislative priorities, and issues unique to the 28th State Senate District. One of the efforts he highlights: “…we are concerned about the cost of prescription drugs,” Stone says. “I am certainly aware of this, as a pharmacist. I have written a technical bill, it’s SB 642, and the bill is one that will get rid of the middleman. The middleman that takes billions of dollars out of the hands of beneficiaries and providers.”

4. Video: Abner Mason, ConsejoSano

Abner Mason is the Founder and CEO of ConsejoSano. ConsejoSano is a unique tool to help drive patient engagement across cultural and demographic divides, helping health plans improve care for their beneficiaries.  Mason joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss their work with Medi-Cal members, who represent a broad array of cultures.

“Here in California, Medi-Cal is the largest Medicaid program in the country — almost 14 million members, one out of three Californians — and it’s 81% multi-cultural. We have this situation where the health care system, here in California, is just not well-equipped to serve these people… So, that leads to really poor engagement, a lack of trust, higher costs, and poorer health outcomes. So, at ConsejoSano we’re focused on trying to bridge that gap. ”


5. Q&A: Kathleen Creason, Well Physician California

The California Medical Association, in collaboration with Stanford University, recently began a new initiative to target physician wellness and reduce burnout and attrition from the profession. The initiative, Well Physician California, aims to provide supports and identify systemic issues related to burnout.

State of Reform recently spoke with CEO Kathleen Creason about the initiative’s roots, programs, and goals in this Q&A. “There are a lot of statistics that demonstrate that physicians are experiencing challenges with burnout that are attributable to a number of different factors… There is a disconnect between the desire to provide strong, appropriate, and relevant care to patients, which can be conflict with some profit motives or pressures from organizations.”