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Event Highlights Ways Medi-Cal Waiver Renewal Can Promote Equity and Improve California’s Health Care System

Event Highlights Ways Medi-Cal Waiver Renewal Can Promote Equity and Improve California’s Health Care System

Yesterday in Sacramento, Health Affairs (a leading journal of health policy and research), the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the California HealthCare Foundation hosted an event,The California Medi-Cal Waiver: Perspectives on Promoting Health System Improvement in California. The event highlighted the opportunities presented by the renewal of California’s 1115 Medi-Cal waiver to transform California's health care system so that it is better able to meet the needs of its new enrollees.

Earlier this year, CPEHN’s Sarah de Guia discussed how the waiver offers a great opportunity to promote health equity for Medi-Cal enrollees, a majority from communities of color:

The waiver gives states like California additional flexibility to design and improve their Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With the waiver, states can expand eligibility, provide additional services not typically covered, and use innovative service delivery systems that improve care, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, otherwise referred to as the “Triple Aim.” 

What’s missing from these conversations is a focus on a fourth aim, promoting health equity… Through our participation in the 1115 waiver renewal process, CPEHN is working to bring awareness to the historic inequities in health outcomes that our communities experience, and the need for innovative policy proposals to help reform traditional health care coverage into systems that can provide meaningful access to services for our communities.

Yesterday’s event also included discussion about health equity and how the health care system can better serve California’s diverse communities of color. Here are some highlights:

The first panel provided examples of how waivers are being used to promote system improvement and featured speakers including Alan Weil, Health Affairs Editor in Chief, Nadereh Pourat from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and Andrew Bindman from UC San Francisco.

The panel highlighted examples of California’s success:

And discussed how better data and analysis could offer even more improvements:

The second panel focused on California’s waiver renewal and included Jennifer Kent, the Director of the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Brad Gilbert from the Inland Empire Health Plan, Mitch Katz from the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, Anthony Wright from Health Access, and Mari Cantwell from DHCS.

They noted that there is great stakeholder participation in the waiver renewal process:

A key theme included the importance of treating the whole person and integrating physical, behavioral, and social services to address all the factors influencing a patient’s health.

There was also a focus on what needs to be done to ensure that the waiver renewal can provide coverage and care to the remaining uninsured and help reduce existing inequities, including collecting more data and expanding the “Triple Aim” to include a fourth aim: equity.

For more information on the 1115 waiver renewal, including all the stakeholder input letters received, visit the DHCS webpage.

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