5 Things in California: Child and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, Medi-Cal in the Field, Moving From Awareness to Action in Health Equity – State of Reform


The 2022 Los Angeles State of Reform Health Policy Conference is taking place this Thursday, September 22! We are excited to see people at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport this week.

Browse the list of panels and speakers scheduled for the day, and if you haven’t already, there’s still time to register to be with us. We hope to see you there!

Thanks for your help,

Eli Kirshbaum
State of reform

1. Panel: The Child and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative

To address an urgent youth mental health crisis, California has invested a historic amount of money in improving its delivery of behavioral health services for its young residents. The Child and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative has the potential to transform the state’s youth mental health system and will have impacts that will be felt throughout the health sector.

To dive into the details of CYBHI and its impact on the healthcare landscape, be sure to attend this expert panel. Join Melissa Stafford Jones, Director of CYBHI at CalHHS, Alex Briscoe, Director at California Children’s Trust, Christina Altmayer, Director at HMA, Lucy Marrero, Director of Social and Behavioral Health Programs at Gold Coast Health Plan, and Hossam Mahmoud , Regional Chief Physician at Beacon, for a robust conversation.

2. Panel: Floor Medi-Cal

How are stakeholders affected by recent changes to the Medi-Cal program? What can we expect in the coming months as the program continues to evolve? This group of health policy makers will discuss the current state of Medi-Cal, their experience with the program over the past year, and more.

Take a seat to hear from Bill Barcellona, ​​Executive Vice President of American Physician Groups, Hector Flores, MD, Medical Director at Altais/Family Care Specialists Medical Group, and Dennis Cuevas-Romero, Vice President of Government Affairs at California Primary Care Association, on this hot topic.

3. Panel: Moving from Awareness to Action on Health Equity

California is known to be a national leader in addressing health inequalities. To assess the state’s recent progress and suggest additional strategies to improve health equity, we brought together this group of people with extensive knowledge of the state’s work on health equity.

Rafael Gonzalez-Amezcua, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Aetna Better Health of California, Mayra Serrano, Director of Health Equity at Anthem Blue Cross, Gabriella Barbosa, Chief Policy Officer at Children’s Partnership, and Veronica Flores, CEO community health councils, will lead an in-depth discussion on health equity.

4. Q&A: General Surgeon Diana Ramos, MD

Governor Newsom recently named Diana Ramos, MD California’s second surgeon general. As a Mexican-American, she represents the 40% of Hispanic Californians and plans to use her position to promote health equity in the state. In this Q&A, Ramos talks about his behavioral and reproductive health priority areas, how health equity relates to the work of the Newsom administration, and more.

She hopes to break the stigma against mental health care, especially among the Latino population. “Culturally, it can sometimes be taboo to say there are mental health issues. I know that in the Latino community, we don’t say that there is depression. We say we are nervous. We use euphemisms. And so I think if we start educating people that mental health is really [an area] which can be supported with medication and counselling, we can change this perception.

5. Key health policy update in Sacramento

Several key pieces of health care legislation recently landed on Governor Newsom’s desk. SB 912 requires commercial health plans and MCPs to cover biomarker testing to improve patients’ ability to monitor their condition and receive more targeted and cost-effective treatments. SB 1139 requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allow incarcerated persons to make emergency phone calls when they or a family member is hospitalized with a serious medical condition.

Another bill awaiting the governor’s signature is AB 1880, which would require any appeal of a health plan’s refusal to circumvent utilization management (UM) to be reviewed by a qualified clinical peer. Proponents of the bill, including the California Rheumatology Alliance, say MU is a tool used by health plans to dictate drug costs without fully considering patient needs. Opponents, like the California Association of Health Plans, say UM protocols promote patient safety by urging patients and providers to take a “measured approach” to taking certain high-risk or expensive medications.


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