5 Things California: Newsom’s first session, Beau Hennemann, Drug transparency

In case you missed it, our Topical Agenda is now out for our 2019 Southern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up on December 3rd. It feels like things in our politics are moving so quickly these days, it’s hard to know where we will be in seven weeks when the conference rolls around.

But, wherever our politics are – December 3rd, or November 2020 – our problems will remain.  And, solutions will require more discussion, more empathy and more collaboration, not less.



With help from Emily Boerger

1. Reflecting on Newsom’s first session

Sunday marked the final deadline for Governor Gavin Newsom to take action on some of the 1,042 bills that passed out of the legislature this year. With that in mind, we reached out to several Capitol insiders for their take on how Newsom performed during his first legislative session.

The feedback varied from highly complimentary of the health consumer-focused policies he helped push through, to concerns over communication within the administration and the capabilities of his staff. From one lobbyist: “There’s still a lot of gaps in understanding who calls what shots…”


2. Senior living facilities grapple with power outages

During Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) unprecedented power shut-offs last week, elderly people were among the most affected. Faced with uncertainty over when power would go out, when it would be restored, and which specific areas would be affected, senior living facilities scrambled to take precautionary measures.

Reporter Michael Goldberg has this story highlighting how senior care providers tried to mitigate risk for their residents amid a lack of information from PG&E. From one facility leader:  “None of our people got showers for two days. With the elderly they’re going to the bathroom and all kinds of things, they need to be washed efficiently. A lot of people were anxious, confused, upset, it changed people’s demeanor.”

3. Drug price transparency

Two big moves in drug pricing transparency took place in California in recent weeks. One is that the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development released its first report on prescription drug cost information, which points to about an 8% annual increase in wholesale costs. The report – which was released as a result of SB 17 – notes that over two-thirds of the reporting drug manufacturers did not list reasons for these price increases, despite the law requiring them to do so.

The second is that last week Gov. Newsom signed AB 824, making California the first state to prohibit “pay-for-delay” agreements between brand name and generic drug manufacturers. The law makes these kind of agreements presumptively anti-competitive.

4. Video: Beau Hennemann, Anthem Blue Cross

Beau Hennemann is the Director of Special Programs at Anthem Blue Cross. Put simply, he gets put on some of the trickiest challenges the plan works on in the MediCal space, in particular.  He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss Anthem’s work in building community and partnerships, specifically focusing on a program in Pomona that utilizes these partnerships to connect homeless Anthem members with housing.

“We developed a partnership to obtain some 811 HUD housing vouchers for Anthem members who are non-seniors living with disabilities. And we were able to support the city in that endeavor, as well as support other local organizations, like Tri-City Mental Health and Volunteers of America, and really bring everybody together to identify this group of Anthem members who are homeless, go out in the community, find them, award them these vouchers, and now those members are getting into housing.”


5. A new model for Medi-Cal to support child mental health

A paper from the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy proposes a “paradigm shift” in how the state delivers and finances care for Medi-Cal eligible infants and toddlers. Rather than focusing on delivering individual services, the First 5 Center recommends a “Whole-Family Wellness Hub-and Spoke Model” to meet the needs of young children.

The report recommends placing an emphasis on family wellness in community settings, addressing barriers to services and care for children who don’t meet strict clinical criteria, and utilizing a capitated rate model for behavioral health. Emily Boerger has a rundown of the findings and recommendations in the paper here.