5 Things California: LA conference keynotes, Panel coverage


Eli Kirshbaum


It was fantastic to see so many of you at last month’s 2022 Los Angeles State of Reform Health Policy Conference! This newsletter features a recap of the event’s keynotes and some of the panel conversations from the day.

Our video team also made a “What You Missed” video from the event that captured the sights and sounds of the day.

Thanks, as always, for your engagement!

Eli Kirshbaum
State of Reform 


1. Keynotes: Michelle Baass & John Baackes

DHCS Director Michelle Baass opened the conference with remarks on fortifying the Medi-Cal workforce, the statewide listening tour she’s conducting this fall to gather stakeholder input for improving CalAIM, and more. “CalAIM is going to take years to realize, everything’s not going to happen overnight, and we need to be receptive to the feedback [and] receptive to the learning,” Baass said.

We closed out the day with a keynote from LA Care Health Plan CEO John Baackes, who discussed his health plan’s unique role in LA-area health care and offered his perspective on the recent activity in the Medi-Cal space, the importance of addressing the social determinants of health, and more. A full video of Baackes’s keynote is available here.


2. Keynote: Hospitals & COVID

During the Lunch Keynote, HASC CEO George Greene and HMA Managing Principal Kim Milstien shared preliminary findings from the upcoming Pandemic Response and Emergency Planning report. The PREP report draws from extensive interviews with various stakeholders to detail the southern California health sector’s experience responding to the COVID pandemic and offer insight into best practices for responding to future emergencies.

“I realized that we were in the midst of a crisis, but this will not be the last time that we will be in crisis mode,” Greene said. “So if we don’t learn from what we’re experiencing, it will be a missed opportunity.” While work still remains on the project, Greene said they will release the official report in the near future. It will be divided into two main sections: best practices and innovations to emerge from COVID response, and long-term impacts and recommendations from the experience. The full keynote can be seen here.

3. Stakeholders detail key issues with CalAIM implementation

In last month’s panel conversation focused on the obstacles stakeholders have faced during the implementation of CalAIM, Mimi Hall, CEO of Manifest MedEx, said the various initiatives in CalAIM could benefit from a unified and comprehensive health data sharing ecosystem, which it doesn’t currently have. She recommended that MMC plans implement a provider data sharing incentive program and that the state provide funding to statewide HIT infrastructure for MMC plans.

Finding the best way to facilitate collaboration between health plans, providers, and CBOs was another central theme of the panel. Cynthia Carmona, Senior Director of Safety Net Initiatives at LA Care Health Plan, said: “The provider networks themselves are really varied in terms of who’s participating. We’ve got CBOs, we’ve got some traditional Medi-Cal providers, we’ve got the counties there with us as well.” She said maintaining close collaboration among different MMC plans has been key to navigating this.


4. A discussion on the Children & Youth Behavioral Health Initiative

A group of panelists at last month’s conference discussed how the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative will impact youth in the state through its focus on prevention and early intervention. The experts discussed the benefits of health plans partnering with schools to establish these early interventions and behavioral health services like campus wellness centers.

Lucy Marrero, Director of Behavioral Health and Social Programs at Gold Coast Health Plan, said schools are effective partners in behavioral health interventions because they can leverage multi-year relationships with community members. Melissa Stafford Jones, Director of the CYBHI at CalHHS, said CalHHS is continuing to focus on expanding supports for families using recent state investments in parent support programs, which she noted will help achieve the initiative’s goals of supporting children’s behavioral health.


5. Behavioral health experts examine implications of CARE Court program

In the “How will CARE Court impact the health system” panel, Connie Draxler, Acting Chief Deputy Director at the LA County Dept. of Mental Health, said there will likely be more Californians eligible for CARE Court than the state anticipated. She said SB 1338—the recently passed bill that created the program—emphasized that CARE Court patients should be prioritized in the mental health system, indicating that some services  might need to be redirected to accommodate the anticipated influx of CARE Court patients.

Karen Vicari, Interim Public Policy Director at Mental Health America of California, is concerned about SB 1338’s lack of funding for service delivery, the fact that it doesn’t require housing to be provided to participants, and the mandatory treatment aspect of the program. “When you have an involuntary treatment order, and make [them] take medications [and get] services, that does not create long-term change. It costs a lot more and it takes longer…” she said.