Closing Plenary: A Look Forward at CalAIM with Bihu Sandhir, MD, Les Ybarra, and Louise McCarthy


Hannah Saunders


The 2023 Southern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference closed with an informative keynote about progress being made under CalAIM. Speakers included Bihu Sandhir, MD, chief quality officer at AltaMed Health Services; Les Ybarra, president of Anthem’s California Medicaid Health Plan; and Louise McCarthy, president and CEO of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC).

“We’re in a fascinating place. When I reflect over the last 24 years or so that I’ve been involved in the Medi-Cal program, we are in the middle of what the state likes to refer to as ‘transformation of the Medi-Cal managed care program. I think from a state perspective and a health plan perspective, we’re exhausted.”


While Medi-Cal continues to undergo transformation, Ybarra acknowledged how this is a community process, and the only way the transformation will work is if barriers are broken down and collective education is provided.

Sandhir said one of the biggest challenges AltaMed is experiencing is the fast pace of changes that are taking place.

“We feel like we’re just getting the hang of one thing, and then now we’re on to something else, and we’d have to change everything around. That’s been one of our, I think, challenges at this time, but I do think it’s exciting.”


McCarthy pondered what support is needed regarding the alternative payment model, where providers are paid for outcomes.

“At CCALAC, one of the things we’ve done is just really take a look at bringing in teams, because what we found was all too often it would be one person from a health center organization coming and getting resources, and then bringing them back to their organization, and then having that Behemoth job of trying to help everybody there learn what they had just learned.”


At CCALAC, McCarthy said they bring everyone into the health center with an idea of how to bring about change, rather than having one individual from an organization present.

You can watch the full conversation above.