Capitol insiders’ perspectives on Newsom’s first legislative session

Posted: Oct 16, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Emily Boerger
State of Reform
October 16, 2019

Sunday marked the final deadline for Governor Gavin Newsom to take action on some of the 1,042 bills that passed out of the legislature this year. Newsom’s first legislative session was marked by big-lift, impactful health legislation like ensuring Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented young adults and expanding premium subsidies. Newsom also came under fire for certain actions during his first session, like his handling of the legislature’s vaccine bill.

We reached out to several “Capitol insiders” for their perspective on how Newsom’s first legislative session went down — both in terms of wins and miss-steps.

Anthony Wright, Executive Director at Health Access California, praised the governor for his leadership in pushing through major health care legislation, some of which advocates have been pushing for years.

“I think it was a landmark year for health reform and for health care consumers,” said Wright. “The governor started out strong with some bold, first-in-the-nation proposals… from expanding Medi-Cal coverage to young adults regardless of immigration status, to expanding affordability assistance in Covered California for low and middle-income Californians, to taking on prescription drug prices with a state purchasing pool, and appointing the first surgeon general. Some of these efforts were long sought by consumer and community advocates… So, Governor Newsom’s leadership was welcome and notable on day one.”

From a less favorable perspective, one lobbyist described the process of communication with the Newsom Administration as “slow and broken.”

“I think that there were some problems that were due to who [Newsom] staffed — the legislative unit and to a lesser extent the cabinet side. They weren’t that experienced; they probably didn’t really understand what the job truly entailed in terms of how you interact with the legislature and with the third house. I think they took too long to develop positions, maybe even digest what legislation was doing — internally they didn’t have a process for that.”

For many lobbyists, there was a lack of clarity about who to talk to within the administration, who the key decision-makers were, who was talking to the governor, and how decisions were prioritized.

“There’s still a lot of gaps in understanding who calls what shots… So, concerns continue to be: how are they going to manage legislative, regulatory, and administrative business? Do they have the right people in place? Are they getting the instructions from the governor? Are they getting instructions from the chief of staff?

I have seen administrations evolve and I understand how they put those together. I also am not sure how much attention the governor truly will want to give to things that are not within his priority list.”

A recent CalMatters piece by Laurel Rosenhall evaluates Newsom’s first session, specifically pointing to moments when Newsom “stumbled.”

“He sowed confusion with contradictory messages about his plans for high-speed rail. He garnered mistrust when he wavered on a bill to crack down on bogus medical exemptions from childhood vaccines — asking lawmakers to change the bill, and then, after they made the changes, taking to Twitter to demand more,” writes Rosenhall.

Kassy Perry, President and CEO of Perry Communications, acknowledged some of the bumps in the road that occurred this year, but says Newsom is getting settled in.

“Governor Newsom is more animated and opinionated in terms of his legislative agenda than past governors, and his style caught many off guard this past session,” said Perry. “Now that his healthcare team is coming together and the Horseshoe is settling in, the Capitol community should not expect controversies like the one surrounding Senator Pan’s vaccine legislation. We anticipate smoother sailing.”

On the Move: Fender Ups Christina Stejskal; March Communs. Hires Kelby Troutman; R&J Strategic Communs. Vet Dan Johnson Takes PR Chair at North Jersey’s Urban Land Institute; Perry Communications Brings On Kelley Rooney

Posted: Sep 20, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Steve Barnes
September 20, 2019

Fender has promoted Christina Stejskal to vice president, communications, PR. Stejskal has been with Fender since 2016, and was responsible for building the company’s global PR function. Before coming to Fender, she was a senior vice president at DKC, and previously served as an account director at PMK•BNC. In her new role, she will lead consumer strategy for all of Fender’s outward facing communications as well as overseeing media relations and external strategic communications across global product launches, business initiatives, events, partnerships and influencer marketing. She will also assume responsibility for leading the marketing efforts for the recently launched Fender Play Foundation, a new charity designed to provide resources and music education opportunities to young people.

Kelby Troutman
Kelby Troutman

March Communications has hired Kelby Troutman as vice president. Troutman joins March from Nuance Communications, where he led global PR, analyst relations, social media strategy and execution, messaging creation, executive content creation, and crisis communication for Nuance Document Imaging. He previously led PR teams at such agencies as Schwartz Communications, Digital Influence Group and Racepoint Group. Troutman has developed and executed on communications strategies for technology companies in a variety of industries, including healthcare, security, enterprise tech, telecom and utilities.

Dan Johnson
Dan Johnson

R&J Strategic Communications announced that Dan Johnson, a senior account executive at the firm, has been appointed to Urban Land Institute Northern New Jersey’s advisory board as PR chair for FY 2020 and 2021. Johnson, who currently heads R&J’s commercial real estate practice, will work to increase awareness of ULI Northern Jersey’s key research and education initiatives while increasing engagement from members and industry influencers. ULI Northern Jersey is a multidisciplinary real estate nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to providing responsible leadership in the use of land in order to enhance the total environment.

Kelley Rooney
Kelley Rooney

Perry Communications Group has brought on Kelley Rooney as vice president. Rooney was previously state director and political director at North State Solutions as well as political and digital director at Cornerstone Solutions. She has worked on candidate, independent expenditure, issues management and bond campaigns. At PCG, Rooney is responsible for developing and managing legislative advocacy and communications programs on behalf of the agency’s health care clients. PCG has also promoted Alexandra LamirandeBrooke Witzelberger and Megan Yee to account executive.

Perry Communications Group Expands Award-winning Team

Posted: Sep 19, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Perry Communications Group (PCG), a leading California-based public affairs firm, today announced the addition of four new staff members, to support the firm’s issue management, coalition building, grassroots advocacy and digital strategies. In addition, PCG recently promoted three of the four new staff members. 

“From campaign management to international business, and from social media to digital marketing, our talented new team members are valuable additions and will help advance client goals. Their varying backgrounds enhance our team’s current offerings,” said Kassy Perry, president and CEO of PCG. “Our three newly minted Account Executives blew us out of the water in their first couple of months and we’re thrilled to support their advancement as they continue to succeed on behalf of PCG clients.”

Vice President Kelley Rooney brings political campaign and digital advocacy experience to the firm. She has spent her career working on candidate, independent expenditure, issues management and bond campaigns. She is responsible for developing and managing legislative advocacy and communications programs on behalf of PCG’s health care clients.

Account Executive Alexandra Lamirande – one of PCG’s recent promotions – worked in international relations and for a California public affairs firm prior to joining PCG. She plays an integral role in client-service focused on legislative policy research, media relations, digital campaign execution and grassroots outreach support.

The second recent promotion, Account Executive Brooke Witzelberger, worked for a longtime California assemblymember and as a legislative assistant for one of California’s top lobbying firms. At PCG, she focuses on legislative advocacy and issue management programs and implements social media and digital campaigns.

Account Executive Megan Yee, also promoted recently, began her career working in the tech hub of San Francisco developing online marketing programs. Since joining PCG, she incorporates new digital technologies, implements communication programs and supports advocacy efforts.

For 21 years, Kassy Perry and PCG have shaped ideas, galvanized opinions and influenced decisions ultimately leading to social change. The PCG team helps clients positively impact pressing issues not only in Sacramento, but throughout California and the nation.

For more information, visit PCG at, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or call (916) 658-0144.

About Perry Communications Group
Perry Communications Group (PCG) is an independent, full-service strategic communications firm specializing in public affairs. We work at the center of issues that matter and give new perspective to the issues and events making headlines today as well as those that will in the future. The bottom line for us is always the same – we’re invested in the causes we promote because our clients’ goals are our goals.

Open Forum: Why Congress should ratify Trump’s NAFTA replacement

Posted: Sep 19, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

By Linda Dempsey
San Francisco Chronicle
September 19, 2019

U.S.-China relations have been in focus this summer, with trade negotiations in flux and tensions rising. American manufacturers agree with Congress and President Trump that China must do more to eliminate unfair trade practices and distortions. Manufacturers also rely on certainty and open, rules-based trade, so volatility and new barriers to commerce with one of our major trading partners make them less optimistic and less competitive. For those reasons, manufacturers are calling for a robust, enforceable agreement on a fairer, more open U.S.-China commercial relationship sooner rather than later.

But while manufacturers seek action across the globe, we have a trade agreement ready for congressional approval much closer to home: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. While China has the second-largest economy in the world, Canada and Mexico, the two largest foreign purchasers of U.S.-manufactured goods, are even more important to the U.S. economy — more than the next 11 countries (including China) combined.

The two countries purchase more than a quarter of California’s total manufacturing exports and support nearly 100,000 manufacturing jobs in the state, according to data released by the National Association of Manufacturers. Put simply, California’s more than 35,000 manufacturers depend in significant part on a strong, reliable trade relationship with Canada and Mexico.

While manufacturers have seen continued growth in our trade relationships with Canada and Mexico, we have also recognized the need to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. Technology and innovation have reshaped the economy and the way we do business over the past quarter-century, but the NAFTA rules remain unchanged.

The USMCA addresses these issues directly, updating several key aspects of NAFTA to reflect the modern economy.

The USMCA would bolster American innovation with best-in-class intellectual property protections and enforcement provisions that are vital to manufacturers. With stronger and clearer rules to protect patents, trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property, the USMCA would catalyze American innovation and help manufacturers stay on the leading edge of inventions that save lives, improve communities and the environment, and support well-paying jobs.

To address advances in digital trade, the agreement includes a chapter setting rules to ensure that manufacturers can rely on digital trade without discrimination or unfair treatment. These rules are increasingly important to small businesses that use the internet as a global storefront.

The USMCA would also provide more access to Canadian and Mexican markets for American goods and remove more of the red tape that often prohibits small and medium businesses from selling their products in other countries.

The trade deal includes additional provisions that level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers by raising standards on a broad range of issues, from transparency and fair competition to labor and the environment.

The benefits would extend to every state and throughout Canada and Mexico, offering businesses across North America new opportunities to grow and expand. The economic implications of a robust and open North American marketplace are difficult to overstate. And moving this deal forward would send a strong message to China and other countries about the standards and rules needed to foster fairer, more open commercial relationships. Manufacturers and businesses across the country are calling on Congress to move quickly to ratify the USMCA.

Linda Dempsey is the vice president of international economic affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers.

Commentary: Why legislation that promises patient protection is bad medicine

Posted: Sep 2, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry

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. 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 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.


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.