Archive for the ‘Clients In The News’ Category

Overcoming patient transportation barriers to care

Posted: Jan 14, 2020 | Posted by Kassy Perry | Comments Off on Overcoming patient transportation barriers to care

Physicians Practice
By Steph Weber
January 14, 2020

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), transportation challenges prevent a staggering 3.6 million Americans from receiving medical care each year. A 2019 survey by Kaiser Permanente found that one-third of Americans frequently or occasionally experience stress over their families’ transportation needs.

While access to a reliable personal vehicle or public transit system can affect virtually any patient at any point in time, it can be persistently problematic for the roughly one-in-five patients residing in rural areas who experience commutes 17 minutes longer and 10.5 miles farther than their urban and suburban counterparts. Associated travel expenses pose additional barriers, especially for those with mobility-limiting conditions requiring specialized vehicles or with chronic conditions requiring repeated visits.

When lack of transportation leads to missed, canceled, or delayed appointments, the impact on patients and providers is significant, interrupting continuity of care and compromising patient outcomes as well as the successful management of complex comorbidities. The rise in such scenarios has prompted the creation and implementation of targeted solutions. “Addressing social needs [like transportation] is the next frontier in healthcare,” says Edward Lee, MD, executive vice president of information technology and chief information officer at the Permanente Federation in Oakland, Calif. “An individual’s social needs can have a huge impact on their health; physicians are often the first professionals working in a community to identify those needs.”

Social determinants of health (SDOH)—where patients are born, live, learn, and work—are increasingly being studied as a way to stymie existing health inequities, improve access to both acute and preventive care, and address modifiable risk factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genetic, biologic, and personal behaviors account for just 25 per cent of an individual’s wellness. The remaining 75 per cent is attributed to SDOH factors like housing, safe neighborhoods, food insecurity, and access to transportation and healthcare services.

The true cost of missed appointments

When patients cannot attend appointments, regardless of the reason, it creates a cascade of consequences for all involved. An interruption in the continuity of care and access to critical support services can leave patients struggling to independently maintain treatment regimens and make healthful decisions that advance their care plans.

According to a 2018 Journal of Primary Care and Community Health study, patients with a history of missed appointments are nearly five times more likely to miss subsequent appointments. Another study determined that patients with higher rates of no-shows are significantly more likely to have incomplete preventive cancer screenings, worse chronic disease control, and increased rates of acute care utilization for hospitalization and emergency department visits, adding to healthcare costs in an already overburdened system. Missed appointments are a risk factor for all-cause mortality, according to a 2019 BMC Medicine study, with mental health patients experiencing an eightfold increase in risk.

Healthcare organizations and providers feel the strain too. In the current healthcare environment where physician shortages are rampant, last-minute scheduling changes may result in unfilled timeslots, underutilization of valuable finite resources, and increased wait times for other patients. A secondary effect is the potential loss of revenues. While it is difficult to determine the economic repercussions, one estimate suggests that no-shows or last-minute cancellations result in an industry loss of $150 billion per year, compounding at an average rate of $200 per unused timeslot. When patient visits are infrequent or sporadic, quality metrics can suffer, resulting in financial penalties under emerging value-based reimbursement models.

Although several studies have reported no-show rates from three per cent up to 80 per cent, they vary broadly among providers and even within an institution’s own departments. “No-show rates average 15 percent for appointments across our system and around 50 per cent for behavioral health appointments,” says Lisa Brandt, MBA, BS, RDH, vice president of population health for Indiana University Health Physicians group in Indianapolis, Ind.

When care managers contacted emergency room patients post-discharge to ensure care plan adherence, a common theme quickly became evident. “We would often find out they had no social support to bring them to their appointments,” says Brandt. When patients inevitably became ill or required further treatment, they would resort to visiting the emergency room instead.

Ride-sharing partnerships 

Missed appointments due to a lack of transportation also tend to point to a patient’s overall socioeconomic status. Patients residing in communities with poor SDOH factors tend to face more barriers to care including less social support, fewer financial resources, and greater travel distances. “Lack of transportation is a significant barrier when accessing care, especially for patients that are low-income, disabled and/or suffer from a chronic condition,” says Liz Helms, president and CEO of the California Chronic Care Coalition in Sacramento.

Although Medicaid frequently covers non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services, prior authorization requirements and varying coverage from state to state can undermine the program’s reach. If patients are forced to pay out-of-pocket for NEMT services, the expense may simply be too great. “These added costs are especially significant for patients who need to receive treatment at a certified clinic only a couple of minutes away from their home, but are [sometimes sent] to [centers in] other states their insurance will cover,” says Helms. “Costs include time away from work, accommodations, paying for a professional caregiver or having a family member provide transportation.”

2013 Journal of Community Health study found that transportation challenges disproportionately affect the elderly, children, minorities, and veterans, as well as patients who are low income, less educated, or chronically ill. To bridge the gap for the most vulnerable populations, Indiana University Health recently formed new ride-sharing partnerships to provide transportation to eligible patients. The initial focus is on the elderly, those with chronic diseases such as heart failure and diabetes, and Medicare Advantage and ACO health plan participants. High utilizers of emergency services and patients without social support or who have SDOH needs are also included.

“To avoid patients paying out of pocket, we are paying for transportation services if they meet our regulatory criteria and have financial need, based on information provided to our care managers and social workers,” says Brandt. While the program is still in its early stages, feedback has been positive and promising for reducing total no-shows. At an average per ride cost of less than $30, it’s significantly less than an emergency room visit and may likely prove more sustainable.

K.C. Kanaan, cofounder and CEO of Envoy America, a senior transportation provider headquartered in Tempe, AZ, has seen a shift in client demographics and needs. “Even though most of our marketing is focused on serving the elderly, we have clients as young as 20 years old,” says Kanaan, who estimates the organization has provided more than 100,000 NEMT rides through its network of medical partners which includes the Mayo Clinic as well as dentists, rehabilitation facilities, and kidney dialysis centers. His employees have also assisted parents traveling with young children, who may have otherwise struggled to find a way to easily and safely commute as a family.

Although formal data isn’t yet available for Envoy America’s program, demand has grown. “We estimate that our services are making a difference, because we are seeing our business grow,” says Kanaan. “Anecdotally, we have heard from some of our partners that our services help them in their overall goal to lower readmission rates.”

Once the impact of ride-sharing programs can be more fully measured, it’s possible the scope could be expanded into a modern version of the house call. “In the future, it could be used to send a healthcare provider to the patient’s home if that is a more efficient and cost-effective option,” says Brandt.

Telehealth and integrated solutions 

When physical commutes prove challenging, mobile may be the answer, especially now that cellphone ownership has reached an all-time high. According to Pew Research Center, 96 per cent of Americans own a cellphone and 81 per cent own a smartphone. Tapping into that technology can keep providers and patients connected for follow-ups, and perhaps even more importantly, create opportunities to access first-line care.

“Because many people have time and transportation barriers to their initial visit with a medical provider, virtual healthcare options speed time to initial evaluation,” says Blake McKinney, MD, cofounder and chief medical officer at CirrusMD, a text-based virtual care platform located in Denver, Colo. “[CirrusMD is] instantly available from any mobile or web device.”

Through partnerships with employers, payers, and integrated delivery networks, the service is offered at no cost to most patients, completely bypassing three of the most commonly cited barriers to care – transportation, distance, and money. Users of the platform, including more than 200,000 veterans, connect with a physician in less than 60 seconds. Avoidable emergency room visits have been reduced by as much as 40 per cent and utilization rates are three times that of national telehealth averages.

“Management of chronic diseases, such as heart failure, require a high touch clinical workflow. Currently, most hospitals and medical groups have programs staffed by highly trained nurse practitioners following evidence-based protocols who stay in touch and manage patients over the telephone – which these days means voicemail and can lead to many lost conversations,” says McKinney. “We live in a world where everyone texts, so it makes sense to use medical-grade texting capabilities for the management of chronic disease.”

Other telehealth services like patient portals and secure messaging partially circumvent the transportation gap and have slowly gained traction alongside EHRs. Unfortunately, rollouts are often clunky and interfaces not particularly intuitive, essentially trading one barrier for another. The key, experts say, is to offer patients accessible resources at every turn.

That’s exactly what Kaiser Permanente hopes to accomplish through their Thrive Local initiative, a comprehensive social health network designed to connect patients with SDOH needs to appropriate services. “A network of community resources will be integrated into Kaiser Permanente’s electronic health record. By doing so, our members with unmet social needs will be more efficiently connected to community services by our clinicians and staff,” says Lee.

Ultimately, the most effective solutions must focus on ease of use and streamlined access to providers. “Some believe that doctors need a bunch of information inputted before they can talk to you – that’s the paradigm of the office clipboard, right?” says McKinney. “What I prefer, and what I believe patients prefer, is to just let us connect and communicate as quickly and as personally as possible. A doctor you can communicate with is more relevant to your care than a doctor you have to wait weeks to see.”

Advances in Lung Cancer Treatment Drops U.S. Cancer Deaths

Posted: Jan 8, 2020 | Posted by Kassy Perry | Comments Off on Advances in Lung Cancer Treatment Drops U.S. Cancer Deaths

GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer points to targeted treatments and early screenings

(SAN CARLOS, Calif. and WASHINGTON) — Today’s report concerning improvements in cancer mortality is welcomed news. The recently released Cancer Statistics 2020 report shows that the decline in lung cancer deaths is driving the decrease in mortality rates for cancer overall. This is a tremendous development for anyone who is at-risk or managing a cancer diagnosis.

“This report validates what we have been advocating for many years. Lung cancer is a disease that has needed a better coordinated plan of action linking prevention to early detection to better treatment options and survivorship care. This comprehensive strategy is what will – and is – saving lives for our community,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, co-founder, president and CEO of GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. “GO2 Foundation is proud to continue to help bring responsible screening and personalized treatment into community settings across the country.”

GO2 Foundation’s focus on a coordinated plan of action linking prevention to early detection and targeted treatment options is helping save lives across the country. GO2 Foundation brings this screening and personalized treatment into community settings across the country through its Centers of Excellence program in more than 700 medical centers in the U.S.

The Centers of Excellence take a coordinated approach to lung cancer treatment including responsible screening, tumor genetic testing that allows for more targeted treatments and personalized clinical trial and treatment navigation.

“We are pleased to see the gains that GOFoundation has been working toward through its coordinated, patient-centered approach to lung cancer detection and treatment, reducing of lung cancer deaths in the U.S.,” said Dr. Geoffrey Oxnard, M.D. president of the GOFoundation’s Scientific Leadership Board and associate professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. “GOFoundation’s focus on implementing responsible screening and care in communities and identifying genetic changes in lung cancer are leading the way to more targeted treatments and better patient outcomes as evidenced in recent cancer statistic reports.”

In addition, GO2 Foundation also provides personalized clinical trial and treatment navigation for those diagnosed – and educational information about screening and where to be screened responsibly for the millions at risk.

Healthcare providers interested in joining GO2 Foundation’s Centers of Excellence network should contact us at info@go2foundation.org. Anyone with questions about risk and screening or questions about treatment should contact our helpline services (800-298-2436 or support@go2foundation.org).


About GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
Founded by patients and survivors, GOFoundation for Lung Cancer (formerly the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance), transforms survivorship as the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving, extending, and improving the lives of those vulnerable, at risk, and diagnosed with lung cancer. We work to change the reality of living with lung cancer by ending stigma, increasing public and private research funding, and ensuring access to care.

California to Expand Innovative Adult Sickle Cell Disease Clinics Statewide

Posted: Nov 25, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry | Comments Off on California to Expand Innovative Adult Sickle Cell Disease Clinics Statewide

Governor and legislature commit $15 million in funding to historically underserved Californians

LOS ANGELES – Today California advanced care for people with sickle cell disease (SCD) by launching a new initiative to establish a network of clinics for adults with SCD statewide, expanding services for those impacted by this chronic, debilitating disease.

The launch marks the grand opening of a new clinic site at the MLK Jr. Outpatient Center in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors named the new clinic after Jeffrey Smith, the son of Gil Smith, Founding Mayor of the City of Carson, who died from SCD complications in 1982 at the age of 23.  These milestones come three years after the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services first opened the adult SCD clinic at MLK Jr. Outpatient Center in Los Angeles, with its partners the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation (SCDF) and the Center for Inherited Blood Disorders (CIBD).

Now with a commitment of $15 million, Californians across the state with SCD will finally receive the quality health care they deserve.

“We have waited too long to address the poor health outcomes and premature deaths suffered by individuals with Sickle Cell Disease in California,” said Diane Nugent, MD, president and medical director of the Center for Inherited Blood Disorders. “In the United States, life expectancy for individuals with Sickle Cell Disease is 61 years. In the United Kingdom, it’s 70 years. In the State of California, it’s a shocking 43 years. The program made possible by this funding due to the leadership of Assemblymember Gipson will give new hope to and extend the lives of our vulnerable and underserved Californians who suffer from this terrible disease.”

For the first time in California’s history, the governor committed $15 million statewide for sickle cell adult treatment programs statewide. In addition, this program will help train clinicians to quickly recognize and properly treat the many complications faced by adults with this complex and debilitating disorder so they can receive the best care possible. Decades of inadequate funding for California adults living with SCD resulted in this underserved community dying at younger ages and at higher rates. Californians with SCD have higher incidents of emergency room visits and hospitalizations than patients in other states. This program marks the first time California has provided significant funding for SCD, which is the world’s most common genetic disease affecting approximately 100,000 in the U.S. alone.

“Given that Jeffrey’s story was the impetus that drove me to introduce this budget proposal, it is fitting that the first of the clinics be named in his honor” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson. “Today, the majority of adults with SCD are forced to obtain care in hospital emergency departments and other non-SCD specialty settings. The Jeffrey Smith Sickle Cell Adult Center will be a center of excellence that understands adult patient’s unique needs and provide them with a quality of life that we would all want for ourselves. Moreover, the comprehensive outpatient center will avoid increased hospitalization costs for a Medi-Cal population.”

The new funding will help create a statewide network of regional adult SCD clinics modeled after the MLK Jr clinic. Developed within the existing health system infrastructures, the network will serve counties where the largest numbers of adults with SCD live, including Los Angeles; San Bernardino and Riverside; Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco; Sacramento and Solano; Kern; Fresno and Madera; and San Diego.

“Sickle cell disease is a complex condition that affects both the physical and mental health of patients, and it is critical that we provide them with first-rate care in the community,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Since 2016, LA County’s Department of Health Services and the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation have helped adults with sickle cell disease at the Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center in Willowbrook. I’m thrilled to see this model expanded across the State.”

The budget allocation will help fund clinical workforce development to strengthen doctors’ and nurses’ understanding of current care guidelines, expand outreach and education, and increase tracking to better monitor care and outcomes through a partnership with the Sickle Cell Data Collection Program. This funding will improve the following outcomes:

  • African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are disproportionately impacted, especially in the Los Angeles area where close to 2,000 patients live with SCD.
  • The average life expectancy for people with the most severe form of SCD is 30 years shorter than that of people withough SCD.
  • Patients with SCD have the highest rate of returning to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged compared to other health conditions.
  • The rate of stroke in adults (age 35-64 years) with SCD is three times higher than rates in African Americans of similar age without SCD.
  • The number of physicians trained and willing to treat SCD patients, especially adult patients, is severely limited.

“We are very grateful for this critical funding that will finally help ensure that Californians with Sickle Cell Disease can access the level of medical expertise needed to address the symptoms of their disease so they can live longer, more fulfilling and productive lives.” said Mary Brown, president and CEO of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California.

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About the Center for Inherited Blood Disorders
Center For Inherited Blood Disorders (CIBD) has cared for hundreds of children and adults in Southern California, offering a safety net clinic that provides health care services specifically to patients with inherited blood disorders.  CIBD has been able to increase access to care for those who are economically challenged by providing medical care regardless of ability to pay.

About the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California
The mission of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California (SCDF) is to provide life-enhancing education, services and programs for individuals living with sickle cell disease. SCDF broadens public awareness, delivers effective advocacy initiatives and promotes innovative therapies to ultimately find a cure.

About the MLK Jr. Outpatient Center
Serving as a model for accessible, culturally-sensitive healthcare, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center operates over 70 primary care and specialty care clinics to serve the health care needs of surrounding communities. The state-of-the-art facility is part of a revitalized medical campus which includes a 131-bed community hospital, psychiatric urgent care, recuperative care center, and Center for Public Health.

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

Posted: Sep 19, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry | Comments Off on Open Forum: Why Congress should ratify Trump’s NAFTA replacement

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 | Comments Off on Commentary: Why legislation that promises patient protection is bad medicine

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 | Comments Off on Civility, respect, courtesy: Disappearing words and actions

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.

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

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 | Posted by Kassy Perry | Comments Off on Guest View: California manufacturers will grow with new free trade agreement

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 | Comments Off on Opinion: Passage of NAFTA Successor USMCA Is Critical to California Economy

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

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 | Comments Off on How should we care for the state’s rapidly-growing senior population?

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.