5 Things California: Legislative update, BH Integration, Holly Smith

I’m at the LA Business Journal Health Care Leadership Forum and Awards event today with about 140 LA area health care leaders. It’s a good event that reminds me of the importance of focusing on what’s working, and the innovation already finding success.

Like Carmen Ibarra’s organization, The Achievable Foundation, which is working on developmental disabilities for patients. Their work is gaining notice, and attracting closer collaboration with health plans in spite of regulatory hurdles. So, I just roped her in to be one of our 50 or so speakers lined up for September 18th!

Thanks, Carmen…!


DJ 5 Things Signature

With help from Emily Boerger




1. Update on the legislative session

The California Legislature reconvened last week after the summer recess, setting in motion a final policy push for the 2019 legislative session. In this piece we highlight some of the remaining pieces of legislation moving forward related to behavioral health and expanding access.

The list includes a bill requiring health plans to reimburse telehealth services at the same rate is in-person services, a bill to expand access to mental health treatment in county jails, and a bill establishing an Older Adult Mental Health Services Administrator position within DHCS.

2. Putting a business model around the social determinants

While health care reform efforts move forward, the disparity in health outcomes across geography and demography remains a broad and persistent challenge. On September 18, we’ll host leaders who will review the issue of putting a business model around the social determinants of health, part of a strategy to get at the health inequities.

Panelists will come to the issue from a variety of angles. They include Tanya Dansky, MD, Chief Medical Officer at BlueShield Promise Health Plan, Francisco Oaxaca, Senior Director of Communications & Community Relations at LA Care, and Leepi Shimkhada, Director of Housing for Health at the LA County Dept. of Health Services.



3. “Don Quixote” goes to Washington DC

National Democratic figures are laying the ground work for health reform policy in a new administration, hoping that the 2020 election will swing their way. One of the quieter but perhaps more influential players in this discussion is former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.  He has been quietly convening key federal policy advocates, both in public and privately, which has included Don Crane, CEO of America’s Physician Groups. Crane is teed up to be with our lunch keynote panel in LA in four weeks.

I spent a few days with Gov. Kitzhaber on a recent trip to DC as he was trying to focus the opinion of DC insiders away from a solution, and towards a better understanding of the problem. “Medicare for All is really a financing mechanism. And, if we don’t reform the underlying delivery system, the way we finance it won’t get at the root problems of quality in health care.”

4. Video: Holly Smith, Optimetra

Holly Smith is the CEO of Optimetra, a consulting firm that offers strategy, positioning, proposals, and solution design services for health care organizations. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss differentiating your brand from others.

“We’re finding the most differentiated organizations, the ones that are really standing out, are the ones that are working across all these silos in health care. They’re really reaching out and they’re collaborating and they’re trying to work with partners in the community. And the ones that aren’t doing that, I feel like are not doing as well in terms of differentiating themselves.”


5. Lessons from behavioral health integration

In our Convening Panel of stakeholders in the LA health care industry, the importance of discussing behavioral health integration was a common refrain. In September, at the 2019 LA State of Reform Health Policy Conference, we’ll host a breakout panel titled “Lessons from Behavioral Health Integration.”

Joining us for the conversation will be Richard Sanchez, Agency Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, Dr. Jennifer Sayles, Chief Medical Officer at Inland Empire Health Plan, and Sara Gavin, Chief Behavioral Health Officer at CommuniCare Health Center. Kara Carter, SVP of Strategy & Programs Staff at the California Health Care Foundation will moderate the discussion.