The unexpected results of the 2016 Presidential election triggered uncertainty and anxiety around the future of health reform in California and across the country. While we do not yet know the full-breadth of legislative and regulatory changes that President Trump and the Republican-led Congress will pursue, we do know that California potentially has the most to lose from any federal repeal, rollback or decrease in the federal commitment to health reform.
Importantly, California has the most to lose precisely because the state wholeheartedly embraced and successfully implemented ACA coverage expansions and health system reforms. This also means that California is the state best prepared to showcase the benefits of reform, contributing what we have learned to the federal debate. We are well-positioned to creatively respond regardless of what challenges are presented.
Since the onset of ACA reforms, California cut the number of uninsured by more than half, from over seven million before the ACA to under three million in 2016. Significantly, health reform in California also touched every aspect of the health care delivery system extending well beyond reducing the ranks of the uninsured. Health care leaders and stakeholders around the state engaged in innovative partnerships, sharing knowledge, and creating nontraditional collaborations, to get people covered and, moreover, to go beyond and improve the health of Californians.
As the new Executive Director of ITUP, I did not expect to focus on protecting the gains we made or that we might possibly be losing ground. I anticipated working with health care leaders in the ITUP network to take health reform to the next level with system changes and improvements to ensure all Californians have the resources they need to preserve and improve health.
Even though we may not have anticipated this moment, ITUP will do what it has always done; convene the best people, analyze the options, and work collaboratively to advance policies that expand access and improve health. We will do this no matter what the political and policy context. My abiding confidence in the vitality and know-how of California’s health care community motivates me to ensure ITUP can and will be part of the solution.