Opening Plenary: The Future of the Safety Net with Lisa Wong, PsyD., Karen Spiegel, Sameer Amin


Hannah Saunders


Lisa Wong, PsyD., director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health; Karen Spiegel, supervisor of Riverside County’s District 2; and Sameer Amin, MD, chief medical officer at LA Care Health Plan, shared their perspectives on health reform initiatives at the 2023 Southern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference.

Wong said there is greater emphasis on behavioral healthcare today than ever before, but that comes with its ups and downs. She said now is an important time to reflect, as well as towards the future of behavioral healthcare.

“We have been dealing with, right now, a system that has been traditionally underfunded and overlooked for many years. The problems we have today, the challenges we have today are not things that came up overnight.

— Wong

Amin said a transformation to a value-based system cannot happen for free, and it has to be intentional, strategic, and investment in the process.

“That’s not intuitive. It’s not intuitive to move from a fee-for-service system to one that pays based on outcomes for patients. When I think of how do you bridge that gap and how do you make sure that the policy and the philosophy’s actually getting into the provider’s office, for me, that’s helping with the administrative burden.”

— Amin

Spiegel spoke on the importance of collaboration to address the housing crisis.

“We don’t work as a county and a health plan in silos, we work together. Then, we pull in our non-profits, we pull in every organization. We pull in those that have a role in our outcome that we’re looking for. When we partner, I think partnership is the most important part of any organization, and if we choose not to collaborate and partner, we won’t be as successful as we could be.”

— Spiegel

You can view the full conversation above.