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Let’s Get Healthy

posted Jan 22, 2013, 12:34 PM by BHC Boyle Heights   [ updated Jan 23, 2013, 2:32 PM by Julio Zaldivar ]
HHP

 

George Flores color
by George Flores, MD
Program Manager, Prevention
Jan 15, 2013

A little over six months ago, Governor Brown appointed the Let's Get Healthy California Task Force to create a plan for California to become the healthiest state in the nation. The California Endowment's President and CEO Robert K. Ross, MD, was named the honorary chair of the Advisory Committee, several of our partners were represented on the Task Force, and the Health Happens Here Prevention Partnership provided regular feedback and recommendations. Last month, amidst the Holiday hubbub, the Task Force came out with its Final Report.  

The Task Force focused on ways California could achieve the triple aim of better health, better care, and lower costs.  The Final Report set six goals with the aim of improving health across the lifespan, health system quality and efficiency, and health-supportive community environments.  The six goals are: 1) healthy beginnings; 2) preventing and managing chronic disease; 3) maintaining dignity and independence at the end of life; 4) efficient, safe and patient-centered care; 5) creating healthy communities; and 6) lowering cost of care.

With an eye for feasibility and availability of data, measurable indicators and ten-year targets are specified for priorities ranging from improving childhood immunization rates, to days spent in the hospital in the last six months of life. Some equity indicators were included such as proportion of 3rd graders who read at or above proficiency level. 

Overall, the vision is ambitious albeit constrained by the requirement to achieve the targets without additional government spending. The Task Force calls on stakeholders, policymakers and the public to voluntarily join together to advance goals identified in the report and to create a statewide culture of health.  Moving to implementation will require strategies, accountability, and resources. 

California is a leader in the implementation of health reform, offering new insurance coverage and access to services for millions of previously uninsured residents. And the community-driven movement to build healthier places to live, work, and go to school is growing.  While the Lets Get Healthy California Task Force pronouncements may provide a roadmap for greater progress, the means to get there is equally important.   

Right now, unnecessary care, waste, and fraud bleed an estimated 40 cents from every health care dollar. That’s why the Task Force called for redesigning the health system, and that’s where some of the means for improvement may lie.  “Savings” from redesign and disease averted must be re-invested for even greater gains in prevention, education, and social improvement programs – e.g. to build healthier communities.  Until there are sufficient resources to fully address the conditions, policies, and environments that foster inequities and preventable illness, better health and lower costs will be elusive. 

Getting us healthy will require people at every level and across all walks of life -government, businesses, community organizations, and residents – to consider how daily decisions, big and small, can affect the health of everyone, particularly children and the most vulnerable people and places.  When we begin to consider our education, social, and environmental choices through a health lens; and when we dedicate the necessary resources to creating equity and improving opportunities in all of those realms, then we will be on the way to being the healthiest state in the nation.

The Health Happens Here Prevention Partnership consists of organizations allied in support for community-wide prevention of chronic diseases and greater equity as a primary means to improve health.  We are supportive of goals of the Lets Get Healthy California Task Force Report, by advocating for and monitoring progress toward their achievement.


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