Commentary: Why legislation that promises patient protection is bad medicine

Posted: Sep 2, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

CALmatters
By Eve Bukowski
September 2, 2019

We all agree that drug prices are high, but a proposal before the Legislature would make that situation worse, even as it seeks to solve the problem.

In fact, I’m concerned that this “cure” for high drug prices might just kill this patient.

You see, I shouldn’t be alive today.

For the past 11 1/2 years, my Stanford University physicians and I have fought Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer. I’ve been prescribed every available chemotherapy and immunotherapy option, endured five rounds of radiation and undergone 63 surgeries. My cancer is not in remission and we must outwit it constantly so I can remain alive to see my children grow up.

I’m also an advocate who has worked professionally with the life sciences industry for years and benefitted from the lifesaving research and development. I understand better than most people the complicated and convoluted drug supply chain. And I’ve seen first-hand the law of unintended consequences.

At issue is the critical need to get generic drugs to market faster and more efficiently, giving consumers access to lower-cost prescription medicine that can save them hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

The proposal before the Legislature, Assembly Bill 824 by Assemblyman Jim Wood, Democrat from Healdsburg, is ostensibly designed to prevent delays in bringing generic medicines to market, but it would have the opposite effect.

It seeks to complicate and discourage the use of settlement agreements to resolve patent lawsuits—settlements that actually increase access to lower-cost, life-saving generic medicine and speed their entry into the market.

The result of enactment of AB 824 would be to slow the process of bringing cost-saving generic drugs to market because it would limit the ability of drug manufacturers to settle patent litigation. Such an outcome would be disastrous for patients like me.

These settlements, which usually bring generic drugs to market years sooner than they otherwise would have been released, have made possible the launch of many generic drugs prior to the patent expiration date.

Access to affordable medicine, as soon as possible, is critically important for patients. Patent settlements have led to patient savings.

Proponents of AB 824 say they want to prevent any settlement agreement that would lengthen patent protections for a given medication. These so-called “pay for delay” provisions should in fact be outlawed; no settlement agreement should ever result in prolonging a brand-name patent.

But their proposed solution would also disrupt legitimate patent settlements between pharmaceutical manufacturers. That approach is nonsensical and counterproductive, as it would result in reduced access to needed medicines and increased costs to consumers.

The California Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission already have the authority to review settlements on a case-by-case basis, which is the best way to protect consumer interests. Under California’s strong anti-trust laws, the attorney general can act to invalidate any settlement if its effect is to limit market competition.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, three drug makers agreed to pay nearly $70 million to the state of California to settle “pay to delay” allegations. The system works. So AB 824 is a solution in search of a problem.

We need to stay focused on making sure that patients can get the medicines they need when they need them. If the goal is to make medicine more affordable and accessible, the last thing patients need is a new legal roadblock that will stifle access to lower-cost alternatives.

That’s a prescription for disaster.

Eve Bukowski is a stage 4 cancer patient and life sciences industry advocate from Davis. evebukowski@gmail.com. She wrote this commentary for CalMatters.

Civility, respect, courtesy: Disappearing words and actions

Posted: Aug 30, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

Turlock Journal
By Jeffrey Lewis
August 30, 2019

Turmoil in local city government, compounded by a general lack of clarity on the economic front at home and globally, has caused some in our area to take a giant step backward.

Taxpayers are angry and frustrated, in part due to Turlock’s inability to solve problems primarily caused by inherited economic miscalculations. But that isn’t all that’s at play. At the root of this turmoil lies fear and uncertainty.

Turlock, like many other localities, is witnessing an unprecedented race to the bottom, in which elected officials from both political parties are vying to outpace each other. This failure to collaborate is symptomatic of the tawdry politics of today, further exacerbated by angry citizen emails and social media attacks on elected officials for trying to do their jobs.

Many years ago, the government was once an inspiring place of grand ideas and magnanimous spirit. Today, though, what passes for debate more closely resembles a disheartening hotbed of moral ambiguity and confusion.  Politicians and community members are using social media tools to argue their point of view, often peppered with insults and innuendo.  The worst part, it has gotten personal.

What happened to Turlock?  To our society?  Disagreement once opened opportunities for robust discussion, which might ultimately lead to consensus, or at least an attempt to find it through respectful debate.

Opinions are not character faults.  However, when mixed with personal attacks on gender, race, body type, hairstyle and clothing choices, they push civility, and substance, out the window.  In doing so, the City slips into becoming a place where businesses may not settle.

Turlock is a community of great pride and history – a faith-based community that truly cares for its neighbors when they are in trouble.  When the economy took a nosedive, people pulled together to help.  Our focus should be on families and helping to keep them healthy, fed and intact.

Given the economic nemesis that the City cannot escape from, there is no greater opportunity than today to come together with one voice, one solution, predicated on honest debate and complete transparency.

It is important that we not forget that social media can help educate and provide a forum for discourse, but it can also be a distraction and deterrent for finding solutions.

Civility and leadership are the fabric that holds our nation together. Divisiveness can rip a community to shreds. Our leaders must rise above personal and partisan agendas and work together, to find solutions to our problems here at home.

It is Labor Day, a time to celebrate working women and men, something Turlock has a long and rich history of doing. Part of that celebration should be re-invoking kindness and respect.  Are you willing to start anew, learn to challenge the status quo respectfully?

— Jeffrey Lewis is the President and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment in Turlock.  He can be reached at jeffrey@legacyhealthendowment.org. The views expressed here are his own and not those of the Foundation.

Fastest Growing Companies: Check out this year’s list

Posted: Aug 8, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Sonya Sorich
Sacramento Business Journal
August 8, 2019

The Sacramento Business Journal celebrated the area’s fastest growing companies with an Aug. 8 luncheon at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West.

The luncheon coincides with the release of our Fastest Growing Companies list. Companies were ranked by percent of revenue growth from 2016 through 2018.

Granite Bay-based Verus Insurance Services ranked No. 1. Read about the company in this profile. [PERRY COMMUNICATIONS GROUP RANKED NO. 45]

Check out the slideshow above to see the 51 companies that appear on this year’s list, and stay tuned for more profiles in upcoming days.

VIEW SLIDESHOW

Guest View: California manufacturers will grow with new free trade agreement

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Lance Hastings
July 26, 2019
The Business Journal

If California were its own country, it would rank as the fifth largest economy in the world. Here, production doesn’t just refer to movies, and tech isn’t just an industry. From cars to computers, smartphones to spaceships, California manufacturers are innovating and making products that will pull our country into the future—doing so with technology that already exists. Our state’s manufacturing industry is poised to grow and thrive as long as lawmakers provide pro-growth policies to enable it—which is exactly why manufacturers here in California and across the nation are calling on Congress to support the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) when it comes to a vote.

Last year, leaders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico came together to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA, while forward-thinking for its time, has become increasingly outdated as our technology and modern economy continue to outpace our economic policy. Our countries’ leaders recognized this and signed the USMCA in November 2018. The next step is for Congress to ratify it expeditiously once the administration formally submits it for approval—which we expect to happen soon.

This new deal not only protects free trade throughout North America, it provides a number of long-awaited improvements that will help to shepherd our economy and our manufacturing industry forward for decades to come.

First, the new agreement includes best-in-class rules that would strengthen United States intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement. Being in such a technology-driven and innovative state, IP rights are critical to a number of sectors and businesses. With even better IP standards that reflect the modern economy, California manufacturers will be emboldened to create new, environmentally friendly, and economical ways to put food on tables across the United States or even to find the next discovery in outer space.

The USMCA would also improve digital rules to ensure companies in the United States using online storefronts have safe and unfettered access to consumers across Mexico and Canada that would help their businesses grow. And let’s not forget about the ways it levels the playing field for many American businesses by improving the way anti-competitive behaviors by state-owned enterprises are addressed and by expanding access into both Canada and Mexico by removing unfair trade barriers. This agreement is undoubtedly beneficial to each North American nation.

To date, Mexico is the only country that has ratified the USMCA. And with data from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) showing the positive economic impact the USMCA would have, it is surprising that some in Congress have not shown the same sense of urgency.

California has more than 25,000 manufacturing firms, 93 percent of which are small- and medium-sized, that depend on free trade throughout North America. And these jobs can be found across our state and throughout many different industries, creating well-paying, career-track jobs. In fact, the jobs in our state that are supported by North American trade pay an average of $100,060 in wages and benefits in comparison to an average $54,329 in nonfarm industries.

According to the same NAM study, California’s economy would suffer without the passage of a strong North American trade agreement, with the state’s manufactured goods exported to Canada and Mexico potentially facing between $1.2 billion and $10.1 billion in extra taxes. That’s in comparison to zero tariffs today and it’s completely unacceptable.

Each day that the USMCA is not approved is another day that goes by without certainty for manufacturers. It’s another day that manufacturers could be creating more well-paying, stable jobs for the middle class. As is so often the case, manufacturers are looking to California to lead, to show what is possible and to pull our country into the future by signing the USMCA. We are up to the task, and let’s get to work!

Lance Hastings is president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

Opinion: Passage of NAFTA Successor USMCA Is Critical to California Economy

Posted: Jul 10, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Ziad Alaywan
Times of San Diego
July 10, 2019

Like much of the country, California has enjoyed a healthy economy over the last several years. In fact, WalletHub recently found that California has the fourth-best economy in the United States, with an incredible percentage of high-tech jobs and a larger GDP than most other countries.

But to keep our economy thriving, we must look to our state and federal representatives to pass legislation that will bolster the Golden State.

International trade is an important component of the California economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across the state and stewarding billions of dollars in investments. And our two largest trading partners are Mexico and Canada.

According to a new analysis by the National Association of Manufacturers, three out of four California manufacturing firms export to Canada and Mexico, which purchase about one-quarter of our state’s manufacturing exports and about $44 billion worth of goods from information and communications equipment and food products to automotive parts and textiles and apparel.

That is why it is critically important for our federal representatives to work to ratify a new trade agreement that strengthens our relationship and promotes free trade with our nearest neighbors and close allies, Canada and Mexico.

When NAFTA was enacted, it was the first trade agreement among all three North American countries. NAFTA ensured free trade across the continent, increasing trade-supported jobs, raising wages, and expanding exports from our state. But with a rapidly changing economy and increased challenges overseas, an update to NAFTA is necessary.

Leaders in the United States, Canada and Mexico signed the new trade deal last November, signaling their support for a modernized economic relationship between the three countries. And Mexico recently became the first nation to ratify the deal. It is now up to Congress to approve the agreement.

One of the most critical provisions in the USMCA would expand significantly the intellectual property protections included in NAFTA. As technology and the digital age continue to change economic landscapes throughout the world, it is more important than ever that the United States protects its innovators and creators. Strong, effective IP protections are the bedrock of our economy and our place as a world leader in research and development.

The USMCA also includes best-in-class digital provisions that set strong standards to foster continued innovation and enable more of our manufacturers and small businesses to export using the internet as their digital storefront.

For California, the tech sector is one of our most dynamic industries, fueling modern manufacturing and putting our state at the forefront of innovation and energy efficiency. And each of these tech companies, including manufacturers, relies on a strong digital economy and IP protections to optimize production and the supply chain—leading to more robust productivity, higher quality jobs, a cleaner environment, and more employment opportunities.

The new USMCA also protects U.S. and California businesses from unfair trade barriers and anti-competitive behavior by state-owned entities. It would allow businesses, many of which are small and medium-sized, to broaden their reach into our neighboring countries and their businesses with a more level playing field. These are the kind of economic policies that we need to ensure more economic stability and growth well into the future.

Congress has already begun reviewing the USMCA. For the sake and stability of California’s economy, I would encourage them to ratify the agreement as soon as possible. It would bring much-needed certainty to the North American market, and it would show lawmakers’ commitment to the American economy.

Ziad Alaywan is president and CEO of ZGlobal Power Engineering & Energy Solutions, an energy consulting firm with offices in El Centro and Folsom.

California is on the verge of a ‘gray wave.’ Health care needs to keep up

Posted: Jul 7, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Dan Schnur
The Sacramento Bee
July 7, 2019

Note to readers: Each week through November 2019, a selection of our 101 California Influencers answers a question that is critical to California’s future. Topics include education, healthcare, environment, housing and economic growth. One influencer each week is also invited to write a column that takes a closer look at the issue.

Stay in the know: Sign up for the California Influencers newsletter here.

▪ ▪ 

Heads up, California. There’s a gray wave coming.

As the baby-boom generation ages, the number of senior citizens in the state is about to explode. The 65-and-over population will nearly double within a decade, which means a larger percentage of seniors here in California than in Florida. And it’s not clear if we’re ready for the societal, economic and health care demands this shift represents.

“California has a relatively young population that’s about to gray rapidly, and we are woefully unprepared,” said Bruce Chernof, president of The SCAN Foundation. “The state’s approach to aging services is a six-decade collection of well-meaning but one-off programs that are siloed from one another.”

Chernof was one of several of The Bee’s California Influencers who lauded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Master Plan on Aging,” which Newsom recently announced to address the needs of the state’s growing senior population.

Kassy Perry, president of the Perry Communications Group, coupled her praise with a warning.

“That’s a start, but the hard work is still to come,” Perry said. “Unless we face reality and make significant changes to the way we provide services and address the needs of the growing senior population, California will see generational poverty the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression.”

Mark Ghaly, Newsom’s secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, described the challenge that he and his colleagues face in developing the governor’s plan.

“The current patchwork of services are not person-centered nor do they attempt to address the holistic needs of the individuals or their caregivers,” Ghaly said. “Government cannot do this alone. It is our collective responsibility to build an age-friendly state.”

The scope of the challenge is even greater given the unique health care needs of seniors, cautioned Joseph Alvaranas of the City of Hope cancer treatment and research center.

“We have found that caring for senior cancer patients requires a special skill set to ensure that care and quality of life issues are appropriately managed,” Alvarnas said, pointing to City of Hope’s geriatric assessment program that customizes patient treatments. “As the senior population of California grows, we must shift our mindset to provide scalable access to appropriate care especially in cancer where prevalence grows with age.”

Carmela Coyle, president of the California Hospital Association, outlined some necessary next steps.

“Healthcare workers of the future — people specially trained to work in the community and in peoples’ homes … can link older adults with their doctors between visits, monitor their well-being and keep them connected with their communities,” Coyle said. “Technology that monitors vital signs and chronic health care conditions catches problems early and prevents conditions from worsening. This makes for better quality care, with less cost and inconvenience.”

Other Influencers emphasized likely job prospects for younger Californians in the burgeoning health field.

“The health workforce opportunity is staring us right in the face. Our young people badly need these opportunities, and we aging baby boomers need these young people,” said Robert Ross, president of The California Endowment, who estimated 600,000 additional health workers would be needed in the coming decades. “The obvious benefit is that our aging community receives the care it needs, but health career investments can also be an important economic driver for the state.”

California Nurses Association Executive Director Bonnie Castillo renewed her call for a single-payer health care system that would provide long-term services for seniors.

“Nurses know that California’s skyrocketing older adult population… face an alarming future if we do not see meaningful, systemic change statewide and nationally,” Castillo said. “Enough is enough. It’s time to pass Medicare for All, to ensure a supported, empowered future for California’s seniors.”

Former AARP National President Jeannine English recommended an equally fundamental, attitudinal shift, prioritizing the opportunities that accompany longer life spans.

“We should quit focusing (solely) on the challenges of supporting the frail and elderly and instead build a society that supports people throughout their lifespans,” English said, citing Singapore’s example of how to recognize the contributions that seniors can make. “They focus on empowerment rather than frailty. Their seniors are not considered a drain on society but rather an opportunity for the community to benefit from their wisdom, and judgment.”

Dan Schnur, a veteran analyst and longtime participant in California politics, is director of the California Influencers series for McClatchy.

How should we care for the state’s rapidly-growing senior population?

Posted: Jul 7, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Dan Schnur
The Sacramento Bee
July 7, 2019

Note to readers: Each week through November 2019, a selection of our 101 California Influencers answers a question that is critical to California’s future. Topics include education, healthcare, environment, housing and economic growth.

Stay in the know: Sign up for the California Influencers newsletter here.

▪ ▪ 

California Influencers this week answered the question: How will we care for California’s rapidly growing senior population? Below are the Influencers’ answers in their entirety.

WE NEED TO ACT NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Kassy Perry – President and CEO of Perry Communications Group

California is graying, and as a typical Hollywood starlet she’s in denial. Unless we face reality and make significant changes to the way we provide services and address the needs of the growing senior population, California will see generational poverty the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression.

Aging is everybody’s business and the services needed to prevent skyrocketing poverty rates among our seniors require the attention and coordination of all government agencies. In transforming our system, we must consider marginalized communities, transportation needs, affordable and accessible housing, health care and long-term care services, as well as infrastructure and financing challenges.

At the urging of senior stakeholders and We Stand With Seniors, Governor Newsom issued an executive order calling for a Master Plan for Aging. That’s a start, but the hard work is still to come.

“WOMEN ARE OFTEN EXPECTED TO SHOULDER THE CARE OF CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY IN THEIR FAMILY”

Richard Pan – California State Senator (D-Sacramento)

Thanks to advances in modern medicine, people are living longer and more productive lives. In addition, families are having fewer children leading to a rapidly growing senior population with a smaller workforce in proportion. Women are often expected to shoulder the care of children and the elderly in their family, but this is not sustainable or equitable. The State Senate has been working on this issue, including the work of Senator Liu’s Select Committee on Aging and last year’s informational hearing of the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services I chaired on the impact of the aging population on the state budget.

With the support of the California Aging and Disability Alliance, I authored SB512 to develop a benefit for middle class families to fund long term services and supports for their loved ones. I welcome Governor Newsom’s leadership in developing a master plan on aging, and I look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue.

PLANNING AHEAD IS VITAL TO PROVIDING QUALITY CARE TO CALIFORNIA’S SENIORS

Marie Waldron – California State Assemblywoman (R-Escondido)

First and foremost, we need a strategy for how we will care for our state’s aging population. This is an extremely important issue, and a trial-and-error approach to it just won’t work. That’s why I support Governor Newsom’s proposal to create a Master Plan on Aging. This will create a comprehensive plan to provide a trained workforce, adequate funding and an understandable benefit system to ensure seniors get the services they need. Navigating our healthcare system can be daunting and making sure seniors get timely referrals to specialists, test results and records management that are in synch with appointments would greatly help ensure quality in senior care.

Our work to improve access to care for California’s entire population will also yield important benefits for our state’s seniors. Expanding the use of telemedicine will help people with limited mobility stay connected with their health care providers. Encouraging preventative care and wellness programs will reduce chronic illnesses and the costs associated with treating them. Other reforms to improve care and reduce costs will allow us to use our limited resources more efficiently so we can provide care for everyone who needs it.

“CALIFORNIA SHOULD TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS TO HOLD THE HEALTH INDUSTRY ACCOUNTABILITY”

Anthony Wright – Executive Director of Health Access California

The projected growth of California’s senior population highlights the urgency to reform our health system. Since they need care the most, seniors feel our system’s inequities most acutely.

California should be proud that this last state budget eliminated the so-called “senior penalty” in Medi-Cal, bringing the income eligibility threshold up to the same level as those under 65. The additional affordability assistance to buy a health plan through Covered California will disproportionately help those approaching 65, who face premiums as much as three times as much as a 20-year-old.

But there’s more to fix in the future — additional investments to prevent seniors from ‘yo-yo”ing on and off Medi-Cal or other coverage programs, and expanding Medi-Cal to all income-eligible seniors regardless of immigration status.

These steps would make our health programs more inclusive, but the real reform that seniors need, in Medicare, Medi-Cal and/or private coverage, is the transformation of the health system to be more transparent, simpler, integrated and patient-focused. California should take additional steps to hold the health industry accountability for better quality and outcomes. Creating a better system for our seniors can help make our health care work better for everyone.

GET READY TO TAKE THE WHEEL, MILLENNIALS…

Robin Swanson – Swanson Communications

It’s hard to imagine that in just over a decade, our 60-and-over population will be 40% larger than it is now. This creates a whole host of issues we’ll need to address; and there clearly is not one easy answer for addressing this drastically graying population shift.

Governor Newsom’s call for a “Master Plan for Aging” may sound academic, but in truth, is a clarion call that we’re all going to be paying for an aging workforce and growing demands on our already overwhelmed health care system. Of the many troubling statistics California is facing, one of the more shocking revelations is that our state will need to recruit 9,000 more doctors to care for this population by 2030.

As Californians, we’re simply going to need to re-shift our priorities, and our finances, to address the math that just won’t add up otherwise. The good news is that older populations vote; so I’m actually not worried about this generation not having a voice. The real question is whether the younger population that will be footing the bill for their aging parents and grandparents will step up to the plate. Will they enroll in our health care exchanges so the system of pooled insurance doesn’t crumble? Will they train to be nurses and doctors who can treat the aging population? Will they create a sustainable and growing economy so that the pie is big enough for all? And will they take in their aging parents as the need arises? Time will tell, and as always, necessity will be the mother of invention.

“OUR GROWING NUMBER OF SENIORS DESERVE A LIFE WITH DIGNITY AND CONNECTION”

Chet Hewitt – President and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation

The urgency of effective action on behalf of California’s oldest residents is clear: by 2030, California will be home to 9 million seniors, and have a larger proportion of seniors than Florida.

These Californians, known as Baby Boomers, are healthier and living longer. But a closer examination reveals that not all seniors are doing well, and all of them are going to require increasing support.

California seniors’ average annual income is $25,000; one third don’t have enough income to meet their basic needs. We need to emphasize affordable senior housing (independent and assisted living) and quality nutrition. With the largest increases in senior populations in inland areas, we also need to build and ensure access to affordable public transportation.

Californians seniors will spend 20% of their remaining years with a major disability. A focus on expanding California’s IHHS program can meet their needs, and provide necessary employment for Californians.

The planning process for Governor Newsom’s Master Plan on Aging must be inclusive, visionary, and move quickly to action. Our growing number of seniors deserve a life with dignity and connection.

“IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT CALIFORNIA INVESTS IN BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES”

Le Ondra Clark Harvey – Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies

It is estimated that by 2030, there will be an increase of four million adults over the age of 65. The demographics of the population are changing as there are more Latino and Asian, and divorced and separated older adults than ever before. Additionally, 15 percent of older adults suffer from a mental disorder. These factors impact the demand for health care services, housing facilities, nursing homes, senior centers, in-home and community-based services.

When behavioral health services are examined, there is a paucity of professionals who have been trained and are available to address the needs of older adults. As such, it is imperative that California invests in behavioral health services, and the workforce who must meet their needs. It is necessary to educate the public about behavioral health careers, expand and provide additional funding for the growth of community college certification programs including peer providers and community health workers, Masters and Doctoral level training programs, and practicum and internship training sites. Governor Newsom has taken a step in the right direction by commissioning the Master Plan for Aging which will help provide a roadmap for how to provide the best care for older adults in California, and it is imperative that it includes a focus on behavioral health care.

TOGETHER WE MUST ENGAGE TO BUILD AN AGE-FRIENDLY CALIFORNIA

Mark Ghaly – Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency

Spending our golden years in the Golden State should be a time of possibility, joy, and vitality, not one of poverty, displacement, and isolation. The Governor has called on all of us to come together to develop a Master Plan for Aging that will take a comprehensive look at the multifaceted issues facing older Californians and lays out a long-term plan that seeks to ensure Californians age with dignity.

The research is clear. Food insecurity and social isolation lead to health problems such as depression, heart disease, and other stress-related illnesses. Similarly, a growing number older Californians are homeless and are battling complex health conditions. Yet the current patchwork of services are not person-centered nor do they attempt to address the holistic needs of the individuals or their caregivers.

Government cannot do this alone. It is our collective responsibility to build an age-friendly state. This is why we must find the courage to put forth new, bold and collaborative ideas, while having the humility to listen and learn from each other. I challenge you to join us in building a California Dream that is inclusive of our older and disabled neighbors. Let us roll-up our sleeves and get to work.

WE NEED TO “FOCUS ON EMPOWERMENT RATHER THAN FRAILTY”

Jeannine English – Former National President of AARP

Longevity is here to stay, due in large part to the unprecedented increases in life expectancy. We must embrace this opportunity.

And Singapore is a great model, for us to consider. They focus on empowerment rather than frailty. Their seniors are not considered a drain on society but rather an opportunity for the community to benefit from their wisdom, and judgment.

We need to design solutions to benefit all society and take advantage of this immense human capital. We should quit focusing on the challenges of supporting the frail and elderly and instead build a society that supports people throughout their lifespans.

Multigenerational teams are more productive so we should incentivize those companies that develop inclusive, multigenerational hiring practices. And to ensure that our healthspan equals our lifespan we need to provide health insurance for all that is comprehensive and affordable. To do this, much like Singapore, we need to redesign our institutions and policies to accommodate the way people actually live their longer and, in many instances, healthier lives.

GUARANTEED LONG-TERM CARE IS THE ANSWER FOR SENIORS, FAMILIES. WE CAN ACHIEVE THIS WITH MEDICARE FOR ALL.

Bonnie Castillo – Executive Director of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United

Nurses know that California’s skyrocketing older adult population — and their unpaid family caregivers (often women who are forced to leave the workforce) — face an alarming future if we do not see meaningful, systemic change statewide and nationally.

The Medicare for All Act of 2019 addresses this crisis by guaranteeing long-term services and supports (LTSS) — a critical benefit for seniors and people with disabilities. Medicare for All’s guaranteed LTSS includes nursing and medical services, long-term rehabilitative and habilitative services, and daily life supports, with an emphasis on services provided at home and in the community. And there are no copays, deductibles and premiums that can wipe out a life savings overnight.

In our current system, LTSS is usually not covered by private insurance or existing Medicare, and few people can afford these services out of pocket. According to a 2018 survey, the average annual cost of a home health aide in California is $59,488, and a private nursing home room averages $117,804. Seniors can access LTSS through Medi-Cal, but with strict income and asset limits, they are often forced into poverty to qualify.

Enough is enough. It’s time to pass Medicare for All, to ensure a supported, empowered future for California’s seniors

“IMPLEMENT THE MASTER PLAN, AND INVEST IN THE HEALTH WORKFORCE CAREER PIPELINE”

Robert Ross – President and CEO of The California Endowment

I have three words in response to the matter of our state’s growing senior population: The Health Workforce.

We at The California Endowment partnered with the California Health Care Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation to support a statewide Commission – of health system executives, university and community college leaders, physicians and nurses – about our state’s health workforce, and their report can be found here. In sum, we now have a master plan to address the issue, but it’s implementation will require a public-private partnership, leadership, and resources in the decade to come to fully implement.

While the projected health workforce needs for our aging population are troubling (we’ll need an estimated 600,000 or more new workers in the decades ahead), here’s the good news: we receive a double-bottom line return by investing in the pipeline to produce these health workers. The obvious benefit is that our aging community receives the care it needs, but health career investments can also be an important economic driver for the state. These jobs generally offer between livable and middle-class wages, typically come with benefits, have career ladder opportunities for advancement, and tend to be resistant to being outsourced overseas, “droned”, or automated.

With the political and civic hair-pulling and anxiety about “where will good jobs come from?” – the health workforce opportunity is staring us right in the face. Our young people badly need these opportunities, and we aging baby boomers need these young people. Implement the Master Plan, and invest in the health workforce career pipeline.

THE ANSWER IS “BETTER QUALITY CARE, WITH LESS COST AND INCONVENIENCE”

Carmela Coyle – President and CEO of the California Hospital Association

We will care for older adults the way they want to be cared for — in the least intrusive and most convenient settings possible.

The number of Californians over the age of 65 is expected to nearly double within the next decade — to nearly 9 million people by 2030. While there will always be a need for acute and emergency care for very serious conditions, the aging of our population demands that we radically innovate the way we provide care.

Technology that monitors vital signs and chronic health care conditions catches problems early and prevents conditions from worsening. This makes for better quality care, with less cost and inconvenience.

Pair that with some of the new health care workers of the future — people specially trained to work in the community and in peoples’ homes — who can link older adults with their doctors between visits, monitor their well-being and keep them connected with their communities.

Governor Newsom’s recent call for a Master Plan on Aging offers a tremendous opportunity to explore new ideas and non-traditional partnerships aimed at keeping seniors healthy and active. It holds the promise to provide a roadmap to a healthy California for all ages.

“WE MUST SHIFT OUR MINDSET TO PROVIDE SCALABLE ACCESS TO APPROPRIATE CARE “

Joseph Alvarnas – Vice President of Government Affairs and Senior Medical Director for Employer Strategy at City of Hope

By 2030, the number of seniors in California will grow by 4 million people. This will present challenges that California will need to navigate, including ensuring that our state does a better job of managing the expertise gaps that patients encounter when getting care for conditions that become more common as people age, such as cancer. At the Center for Cancer and Aging at City of Hope, we have found that caring for senior cancer patients requires a special skill set to ensure that care and quality of life issues are appropriately managed. The Center established a geriatric assessment that analyzes aspects of a senior’s life, helping tailor treatment for each individual, and has also increased senior participation in cancer clinical trials. Far too few Californians get this level of cancer care today. As the senior population of California grows, we must shift our mindset to provide scalable access to appropriate care especially in cancer where prevalence grows with age. Nearly 70% of all cancer cases occur in people over 50. As we all age, our leaders must invest carefully in the health and care of our seniors for the benefit of our entire population.

“CARING FOR OUR SENIOR POPULATION WILL TAKE A HOLISTIC APPROACH”

Zach Friend – Second District Supervisor for Santa Cruz County

It’s estimated that over the next 15-20 years our state’s senior population will nearly double.

While health care is a significant challenge, it can’t be viewed in isolation. In Santa Cruz County, over 25,000 seniors do not have enough income to pay for their basic needs. Many seniors have fixed incomes but expenses are not fixed. Rising housing costs which has increased homelessness in people age 50 and up, and rising medical, dental, transportation and food costs all are having a significant impact. According to a recent local survey, 90 percent of local Meals on Wheels participants say there’s a time each month when they don’t have enough money for food. And more than 1 in 3 seniors cited concerns about isolation and mental health challenges.

Caring for our senior population will take a holistic approach. Ensuring housing stability for healthy and safe aging in place, increasing senior-specific affordable housing, social safety net programs for food and transportation, improving access to dental care and behavioral health programs all provide the stability that is essential for mental and physical health – and are key steps to ensuring we take care of a population that has taken care of us.

“IT’S TIME FOR A MASTER PLAN FOR AGING IN CALIFORNIA”

Bruce Chernof – President and CEO of The SCAN Foundation

It’s time for a Master Plan for Aging in California. Compared to other states, California has a relatively young population that’s about to gray rapidly, and we are woefully unprepared. The state’s approach to aging services is a six-decade collection of well-meaning but one-off programs that are siloed from one another. They are provider- or funding-stream centric and not person-centered. Many of them have waiting lists that are months long. Thankfully, Governor Newsom recognized this potential catastrophic challenge by calling for the creation of Master Plan for Aging. Executive Order N-14-19 recognizes that ALL Californians will age and the reality is, most all will have needs. Thus, future solutions must involve state and local government, and the private sector as well as philanthropy to build a model that helps all Californians age with dignity, choice, and independence.

Dan Schnur, a veteran analyst and longtime participant in California politics, is director of the California Influencers series for McClatchy.

Letters to the editor | GET INVOLVED, PEOPLE

Posted: Jun 19, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Rick Hudson
The Modesto Bee
June 19, 2019

I recently attended The Bee’s California Priorities event at the Gallo (tip of my hat). All the panel guests and speakers are to be commended.

I plan to write a letter to the governor’s advisory committee regarding the master plan on aging, per Kassy Perry’s recommendation, and I highly advise others to do the same. The issues we all have, from cradle to grave, are issues we should not be ignoring; we need to get our heads out of the sand. As a realist I plan to step up to the plate and wake people up to a correct way of living their lives.

‘California Priorities’ panels examine health and care of kids, seniors

Posted: Jun 13, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Deke Farrow
The Modesto Bee
June 13, 2019

Issues of health and care as they relate to children and senior citizens were discussed by two separate panels Thursday at a downtown Modesto event. But the conversations showed that circumstances, experiences, decisions and other factors throughout life mean the two age groups themselves really aren’t that separate.

Left unchecked, childhood obesity can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other illnesses.

People who’ve been traumatized at a young age — “who may have not had the best upbringing,” as a panelist put it — and have not received help to work through that and develop emotionally, are now raising kids of their own. And they very well may be passing along that trauma.

Adult caregivers, often for elderly family members, may be paid by the state as in-home support services workers but typically don’t get the training and certification that would make them employable. So when that person dies, the caregiver has valuable experience but no resume to go with it.

The Modesto Bee’s free California Priorities event, Focus on Health Care, lasted two hours at the Gallo Center for the Arts. Most of the first hour was on caring for children and making families healthy. Among the topics discussed were health care access vs. coverage, engaging parents, the impact of social media and screen time, and behavioral health.

Panelist Leslie Abasta-Cummings, chief executive officer of the Livingston Community Healthclinic, said the No. 1 issue she sees is lack of access to affordable, timely, quality health care services. The Affordable Care Act did a great job in extending coverage to people who historically did not have it under the MediCal program, she said, “but we now have more coverage and less access. It doesn’t do anyone good to have an insurance card and coverage if you also can’t access and get an appointment.”

What’s behind the lack of access, she and others said, is the shortage of physicians in the area. “We as providers cannot begin to address these (health care) issues without an adequate work force,” Abasta-Cummings said.

She got a round of applause from the Foster Family Theater audience for saying that providers need to support efforts like Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 1606 on medical school funding and creating residency slots.

On the importance of engaging parents, Deborah Kong of the David & Lucile Packard Foundationsaid the bonds formed in the early years are critical to healthy child development. She supports paid family leave in the critical first months of a baby’s life.

David Jones, executive director of First 5 Stanislaus, said there has to be love and connection at home, whether it’s from a parent or another caregiver or a trusted member of a child’s life. “Without love and connection, there’s little hope for our children … A loving, supportive environment can make up for a lot of challenges in a child’s life.”

That love sometimes has to include proactive and aggressive parenting and role-modeling on issues such as healthy eating and social media, cell phone use and other screen time. Le Ondra Clark Harvey of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies said she thinks she’s done a good job keeping her 2-year-old away from screens, and then was astonished to learn her 6-month-old took a selfie with a phone. “And where did he learn that?” she joked. Screen time can be addictive just like junk food, Harvey said. “So everything in moderation.”

Jones shared a sobering conversation he once had with two kindergarten teachers. Both said they had to do “remedial exercises” with children who had difficulty raising their heads because so much of their time was spent looking down at screens and their neck muscles weren’t properly developed. They also had to learn to use their fingers in ways other than swiping touchscreens. “I thought I’d heard everything,” Jones said, but it still upsets him to think about that talk.

The second part of Thursday’s program was on caring for seniors and focused in big part on the financial hurdles they face. Often, the people who have it toughest aren’t the poorest, who qualify for MediCal and subsidies, but those who are on fixed incomes but still face financial hardships, said Jill Erickson, a manager with the Stanislaus County Area on Aging.

Jeffrey Lewis, president and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment, agreed that “this is not about MediCal, this is about a population of people over 60, who we have to worry about everybody.” But the second population we have to worry about equally, he said, are the children of aging parents who are often asked to assist with the cost of care. They are doing out of love and respect, but it can have a long-term, dramatic economic impact on them.

Kassy Perry, president and CEO of Perry Communications Group, said the situation can result in generational poverty. Children may deplete their savings taking care of parents, only then to need their own children to assist them.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling for the creation of a master plan on aging. There is much work needed to get it done, Perry said, but it’s a historic opportunity to overhaul and rethink the way services to seniors are provided. “The organizations at the community level know how to do this. Nobody questions that,” she said. The problems are with “the revenue stream and the prohibition on using dollars for certain things.”

For example, when she worked under Govs. George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, she said, MediCal couldn’t provide food services. It was strictly for medical care. Now, it’s good to see that the value of integrating nutrition has been recognized, Perry said.

Asked what comes next regarding the master plan on aging, Perry urged people to go to the governor’s website, www.gov.ca.gov, to read the executive order. It calls for a stakeholder advisory committee, which will include a research subcommittee and a long-term-care subcommittee.

To get involved, send a letter, ask for an appointment, she urged. “The more the merrier. We need everybody engaged.”

The next California Priorities event will be in Fresno in October, on the topic of education.

Governor Newsom Announces State’s First Master Plan for Aging

Posted: Jun 11, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

West Health and The SCAN Foundation applaud bold move to avert crisis

WeStandWithSeniors_Square_Logo-2(SACRAMENTO)We Stand With Seniors, the nonprofit, nonpartisan effort focused on educating state leaders about the need for a comprehensive, coordinated Master Plan for Aging, commends Governor Gavin Newsom who yesterday signed an Executive Order calling for the creation of a California Master Plan for Aging. The governor’s Executive Order is a critically important step in recognizing and addressing the immediate need to ensure all Californians can age with dignity and independence.

“Governor Newsom’s Executive Order is an important first step towards creating a senior-friendly Golden State and we commend him for his decisive action and leadership,” said Shelley Lyford, President and CEO of West Health and a commissioner with the California Commission on Aging. “Not just older adults, but every Californian has a stake in a Master Plan that includes coordinated, community-based care to enable individuals to age successfully with the dignity, quality of life and the independence they deserve.”

California’s older adult population, which is expected to grow by four million through 2030, faces a number of challenges in accessing high-quality, affordable healthcare, dental care and supportive services, housing and transportation. All of these system-wide issues are exacerbated by the absence of a culturally competent, well-trained workforce. The current system is fragmented and is void of a vision for how services should be delivered to effectively meet this population’s needs. To plan for this demographic shift and to ensure that older adults can live with dignity and independence, the California Master Plan for Aging is vitally important to outlining the state’s goals and objectives for creating a comprehensive, effective and efficient system. With this plan, the state has the potential to design a California system that is accessible to all, and one that reflects what matters most to older Californians and families.

“We applaud Governor Newsom for his visionary leadership and expedient goals for creating and implementing a statewide Master Plan for Aging,” said Bruce Chernof, President and CEO of The SCAN Foundation.

“This Plan can help ensure that older Californians live fulfilling, independent lives in the places they call home—with all sectors working together on an efficient, strategic approach for older adults and the caregivers who stand by them,” said Dr. Chernof.

In 2018, nonprofits West Health and The SCAN Foundation launched the nonpartisan, public awareness and education campaign, We Stand With Seniors, to highlight the need for a statewide, comprehensive Master Plan for Aging to address the growing challenges faced by California older adults, their families and caregivers. Having experienced the challenges older adults and their caregivers face with his own father who passed away last year, Governor Newsom has since included the development of a statewide Master Plan for Aging among his top initiatives.

We Stand With Seniors will continue to offer expertise and support of Governor Newsom’s Administration, the state Legislature and regulatory agencies, and our fellow senior advocates in creating and implementing a Master Plan for Aging that will provide Californians with the care and dignity they so richly deserve.

About We Stand With Seniors
West Health and The SCAN Foundation’s We Stand With Seniors… Will You? nonpartisan, public awareness and education campaign focuses on the specific challenges seniors and their families face in accessing high-quality, affordable healthcare, dental care and supportive services and the cost to the state if these challenges are not addressed. Keep up with #StandWithSeniors by visiting www.WeStandWithSeniors.org and following on Facebook @WeStandWithSeniors and Twitter @WeStandWSeniors.