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HIP Policy Forums

HIP hosts annual forums that bring state and national experts on health care policy and practice to Santa Cruz County to raise awareness, engage local leaders, and mobilize our community to work together to improve our local health care system.

HIP also partners with other coalitions on community health care forums, including the Regional Diabetes Collaborative's Annual Diabetes Forum, the American Cancer Society's Access to Care Initiatives, and a series of community meetings designed to examine how socioeconomic factors such as poverty, educational attainment and discrimination can significantly affect health outcomes.

2011 Seventh Annual Board Meeting: Opportunities and Challenges of Implementing Health Care Reform in Santa Cruz County

What are the implications of national health care reform at the local level -- and specifically for Santa Cruz County? On November 10, local community leaders gathered at HIP's Seventh Annual Board Meeting to hear reflections on this question from Peter Long and Bill Monning. Peter Long is President and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation and a veteran of health policy debates from academic research as well as philanthropic perspectives. Assemblymember Bill Monning was elected in November 2008 to represent the 27th Assembly District, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties. He is Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Health. Alan McKay, Executive Director of the Central California Alliance for Health and HIP's Board President, posed some questions to Long and Monning, as summarized below.

McKay: What do you see as the major opportunities and challenges of health care reform for those of us working at the local level?

Monning: Some of the opportunities are already happening -- insurance companies can no longer deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions to those under the age of 19, which will be expanded to everyone in 2014, with no lifetime caps on coverage amounts. That's progress -- but there's still a ways to go. For example, the reforms don't include undocumented workers, which in California leaves huge gaps in coverage and germs and diseases certainly don't care whether you have a green card or not. The law also is headed to the Supreme Court, where it will probably be decided by one vote.

Long: Health care reform won't be self-implementing -- meaning that even as coverage is expanded to 4 or 5 million additional people in California, this won't happen automatically. The systems to enroll people who are eligible and to educate them about their options and how to access them -- that will take a lot of work and will be crucial to the reforms' success. Fortunately, Santa Cruz County already has experience with outreach and enrollment and with building these systems to reach people -- so that's an opportunity as well as a challenge.

Another major challenge will be providing health care to people once they are covered. We're already struggling to provide care to people because there isn't enough primary care capacity.

Monning: Community college programs like those at Cabrillo, Hartnell, and Cal State Monterey Bay are already training nurses and other allied health workers -- but we can do more. In this economy, that's an opportunity to address provider shortages and unemployment at the same time.

McKay: What else should we be doing at the local level?

Long: Continue your efforts to create value-based health care -- meaning that you are integrating health systems and information flow in ways that improve health outcomes for patients, but also lead to lower costs. Value-based health care is the direction we're moving in, no matter what happens with health care reform.

These comments are excerpts of a longer conversation. For more details about any of the organizations involved, please visit their websites: 
Blue Shield of California Foundation 
Assemblymember Bill Monning

2009 Healthy Kids Coalition celebration with Ezra Klein

In January, 2009, at Cabrillo College's Sesnon House, Healthy Kids hosted a celebration of local efforts to cover all Santa Cruz County children.  Ezra Klein, Washington Post columnist, provided an irreverent presentation on the political prospects for national health care reform, noting that all eyes will be on the Senate in the coming year.  Alan McKay, co-chair of the Healthy Kids Steering Committee and HIP's Board president, also presented the 2009 Champion for Children award to Dr. Larry deGhetaldi and Ric Nichols of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Santa Cruz Region and Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center, for their leadership donations to the Healthy Kids program, giving over $1 million to Healthy Kids and Healthy Families programs to date.  Our audience also viewed the premiere of the Voices of Healthy Kids video, featuring the personal stories of children and families whose lives have been touched by Healthy Kids.  Ezra Klein continues to be an excellent source of health care policy information, visit his on-line blog.

The 2008 Policy Forum focused on Santa Cruz County's "bootstrap initiatives" - solutions that are already making a difference locally, including Healthy Kids, Make Your Wishes Known, and the 52-10 Campaign.  In the absence of state or federal solutions, HIP is committed to taking local action now, to improve health outcomes for all residents.

A 2008 Town Hall Meeting on Health Care Reform hosted by Dominican Hospital and HIP was designed to provide President Obama's transition team with input on health care reform from our local community. Over 100 participants convened, broke out into groups, and came to unexpected consensus on the challenges and priorities for reform. Click here to view a video of the meeting.

The 2007 Policy Forum inspired discussions of the challenges faced by a host of community constituents, including health care, government, business, labor, consumers and others. The forum provided presentations on California health care reform proposals from tax incentives to a single payer system to Governor Schwarzenegger's "shared responsibility" approach.  Peter Long of the Kaiser Family Foundation and Robert Phillips of The California Endowment facilitated discussions about health care financing, and what solutions might be found at the local level, while Linda Bergthold provided a picture of the uninsured in Santa Cruz County.