A Message from Our C.E.O., Bob Freeman
Over the past few years, CenCal Health had the opportunity to serve thousands of new members of our health plan. We've added benefits that were not available before and we've seen improved health outcomes as a result. We are proud to be a local community health plan that has made a difference and continues to make a difference in people's lives.
With a new administration in the White House, there will be impacts on health care in the nation, in California, and here on the Central Coast. I'm neither supporting nor regretting the election's outcome as CenCal Health's CEO - that not my role. What I will do is work with our great staff, our board of directors and the provider community to best manage whatever change comes our way.
There are dozens of questions as to what comes next, and unfortunately a lack of anything but speculative answers. Repealing the Affordable Care Act in its entirety will be difficult from a practical viewpoint, as facts can be stubborn things.
Converting Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) to block grants will also be difficult as (and make no mistake) less federal money for Medicaid will impact all states, red and blue.
That all being said, either or both of these efforts could happen. The roles of community-based health plans like ours in this instance is to outline for policy makers the factual impact of significant federal health policy changes, such as:
- The economic impact of hospitals, physicians and the community at large resulting from policy changes.
- The human impact resulting from such changes.
- The impact of the health care safety net from such changes.
Above all policy makers need to be reminded that health care expenses are a zero-sum game. Reduced federal funding for health care doesn't eliminate the health care expense itself - it merely shifts it to other entities (hospitals, physicians, CBOs). At least we recognize that our valued providers should not and cannot support added burden and we will advocate on behalf of our community as we have done for over 30 years.
This is not meant to paint a dire picture of the future, as I don't think that's the case. I believe that 2017 will be to a large degree a year of uncertainty. Uncertainty isn't necessarily good or bad, it's just uncertain. What is certain is that CenCal Health, along with our partners in the health care community, will be working diligently to help promote and encourage a certainty that's as beneficial to the Central Coast as possible.
At CenCal Health, we partner with our providers -- from promoting quality health care delivery to ensuring our members get the care they need at the right time and in the right setting. We encourage not only healthier outcomes and well-being for the people we serve; but also we "take care of our own" mentality that we think epitomizes our collective philosophy in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Without you, none of what we do would be possible.
Robert S.Freeman, C.E.O.
(Note: this article was adapted from a previous article)