5 Things California: Q&A w/Asm. Buffy Wicks, Legislators shaping health policy, Financial impacts on FQHCs

I know there are a lot of other important things going on in the world. But, tonight’s game between Gonzaga and Baylor for the Men’s NCAA College Basketball National Championship is on my list of things I will be watching tonight at 6:20 PM PST. If you missed the winning shot from Saturday, it was quite a moment and worth a quick view even if you’re not a college sports fan.

I graduated from Gonzaga back in 1997. We’ve had a heckuva run since then, making all of the NCAA tournament since 1999. But, we’ve yet to win it all. So, keep your fingers cross for the little school up north.






With help from Emily Boerger

1. Asm. Wicks on homelessness

California led the nation with a 6.8% increase in homelessness between 2019 and 2020, according to a recent HUD report. State of Reform Reporter Sydney Kurle last week spoke with Asm. Buffy Wicks, Member of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, about the report, California’s housing crisis, and policies to address homelessness.

In her role as Chair of the Select Committee on Social Housing, Wicks says she’ll be looking at reimagining what public housing could look like. “It’s state-owned housing, but it includes folks of all income levels so that you’re not trying to separate low income communities away from the resources that they need, like grocery stores and malls and things of the future. But instead, you have mixed income housing that the state could provide, that would also be pipelines for homeownership.”


2. Legislators shaping health policy

Some of the most impactful legislators in health policy will join us at the 2021 Northern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference on April 22. We’re looking forward to kicking off the event with a keynote conversation with Asm. Jim Wood, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health. Then, on our “Policy Leadership: Democrats” panel we’ll hear from Sen. Scott Weiner, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee, and Asm. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Member of the Assembly Committee on Health.

Joining us on our “Policy Leadership: Republicans” panel will be Assembly Minority Leader Marie WaldronSen. Shannon Grove, Member of the Senate Health Committee, and Asm. Devon Mathis, Member of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Bring your questions to what are always interactive and informative panels on the future of health policy in California.


3. Bonta comments on health equity

Gov. Newsom announced last month his nomination of Asm. Rob Bonta as the next California Attorney General. Bonta, who is set to become the first Filipino American to serve as California AG, previously chaired the Assembly Health Committee and has a long history of fighting for communities of color and focusing on social justice.

In a Q&A with State of Reform in October, Bonta discussed his passion for health equity and reflected on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable populations. Bonta also offered his perspective on our “Racism as a Public Health Issue” panel at the 2020 Southern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference. In 2018, he gave keynote remarks at our Northern California conference where he reflected on universal coverage, single-payer systems, and his views on the partnership between the Legislature and the Office of the Attorney General.

4. Wyden & Murray to keynote federal event

It’s a big week here at State of Reform as we look forward to hosting the 2021 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference on April 7-8. This two-day conference will bring together some of the most influential voices shaping federal health policy like Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden and HELP Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray who will both join us as keynote speakers this year.

During this two-day event, attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the over 100 speakers we have lined up. They’ll also have access to the recordings of all 36 breakout and keynote sessions for 30 days. If you haven’t registered yet, we’d be honored to have you join us!


5. FQHCs may be “greatly weakened” after pandemic

California’s largest FQHCs, and those that serve the highest proportion of Medi-Cal patients, have faced the most significant financial losses during the pandemic, according to a recent study from Capital Link. The study found that the top quartile of FQHCs based on patient size absorbed 97% of the total losses, totaling about $547 million. The lowest quartile experienced a $41 million estimated surplus.

The study warns that without additional funding support, California’s health center system could be “greatly weakened in a postpandemic future.” The Biden Administration recently announced a $6 billion investment in community health centers across the country to address the COVID-19 pandemic. California is set to receive the most funding with over $992 million for 175 health centers.