Bay Area Council Blog: Healthcare Archive

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GOP Healthcare Bill Unveiled; Big Impacts for California

Senate Republicans on Thursday (June 22) revealed draft language of a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Better Care Reconciliation Act would be a significant departure from the ACA and would: eliminate the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance, phase out the Medicaid expansion by 2021, allow states to waive health plan minimums required by the ACA, reduce subsidies for those purchasing insurance on the individual market, and end tax increases put in place by the ACA to fund the coverage expansion. If passed, the bill would have far-reaching impacts on the state and regional health systems as well as on the economy, and as such, the Council continues to monitor Congressional efforts in this area. To engage in our healthcare policy work, please contact Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.

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Council Agenda Gets Receptive Ear in D.C.

Transportation, housing, trade and healthcare were among the issues a Bay Area Council-led business delegation discussed this week in Washington, D.C., with top Congressional and White House leaders. Led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias (Chairman and CEO, TMG Partners) and Council CEO Jim Wunderman, the delegation met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among many other legislators, cabinet and administration officials.

Delegates highlighted the importance of investment in transportation, particularly as it relates to future Northern California megaregion planning. As a growing economy blurs historic Bay Area, Sacramento and San Joaquin regional boundaries, the Bay Area Council is taking action now to address the future transportation, housing and workforce needs of the emerging megaregion. Much of the immediate focus and a major topic in meetings this week was investing to expand megaregion rail capacity, including securing federal transportation dollars for the Amtrak Capitol Corridor service and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE Train).

The Council shared a sneak peek at new research by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that shows the strong and growing connections between Silicon Valley and other parts of the country and how those connections can be leveraged to expand knowledge-based economic opportunities and grow jobs nationwide. The Council also advocated for free and open global trade and immigration policies. Special thanks to our sponsors Microsoft, Oracle, and Alaska Airlines. To learn more about the Council’s federal policy agenda, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.

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PUSH FOR SINGLE-PAYER THREATENS ACA STABILITY

With rumors continuing to swirl around Republican-led efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, California legislative leaders are taking a different — but no less dangerous — approach. SB 562, The Healthy California Act, aims to transition California to a comprehensive and universal single-payer system. California has been a leader in the implementation of the ACA, and has made substantive and important progress that is now in a precarious position due to Congressional replacement proposals and actions by the Trump administration to undermine its implementation. The Healthy California Act is a symbolic measure that would have a massive impact on the state budget and healthcare system, while dividing the California healthcare and health policy community against itself at the exact wrong time. As such, the Bay Area Council has taken an oppose position on the bill.

This week, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a policy brief, A Pragmatic Approach to Medicaid Reform, highlighting practical bipartisan ways to increase sustainability, flexibility, and value for medical spending in the Medicaid program. Weinberg traveled to Sacramento on Thursday (April 13) to brief legislative staff and policy analysts on the brief and discuss other health reform issues at state and federal levels. This is the first in a series of health reform briefs that will be published throughout the year by the Institute. The briefs will be co-authored by Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg, PhD and Hoover Institution Fellow Lahnee Chen, PhD, who has served as an adviser to numerous public officials, the policy director to the Romney-Ryan presidential campaign, and as a senior official at Health and Human Services under George W. Bush.

To engage with the Council’s Healthcare Committee, please contact Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.

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Council Helps Forge New UCBerkeley-China R&D Partnership

The Bay Area Council today (March 27) applauded the announcement of a new partnership between the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC Berkeley and Zhejiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China, that marks the first step in an exciting new research and development collaboration focused on cutting-edge technology innovations.

An agreement signed by CITRIS and ZJU was made possible with a $1.2 million gift from an alumnus of UC Berkeley, who is the Director of Zhejiang Zerong Network Technology Co. Ltd. This first phase of funding will be used to generate a vision and plan for the new ZJU-CITRIS Research Innovation Center in Hangzhou and attract support for a collaboration of much larger scale and impact on both regions. This global innovation and incubation hub will support the development of technology solutions in the areas of health; sustainable infrastructures; people and robots; and connected communities.

The Council, through its China Global Initiative, was proud to work with the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office of Government and Community Relations and under the leadership of CITRIS Director Costas Spanos in developing the partnership by leveraging our strong relationships in China.

“This new partnership has the potential be a game-changer in fostering cooperation on research and development that can benefit both the Bay Area and China,” said Del Christensen, Chief of the Council’s China Global Initiative. “When the Council entered China 10 years ago, it was specifically with the purpose of helping create opportunities like this. It’s gratifying to see this new collaboration between our region and one of China’s fastest-growing and most innovative capital cities begin to take shape.”

The Council operates offices in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing China, to support business access and cooperation between California and China. To learn about the Council’s China Global Initiative, please contact Del Christensen.

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TOP ECONOMISTS, BUSINESS LEADERS GIVE ECONOMIC FORECASTS ON INAUGURATION DAY

As the world watched the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 10th Annual Economic Forecast presented by McKinsey & Company and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco convened leading economists and top experts to give their economic forecast for the Bay Area, California, and the nation.

The prognosis was clear. As we usher in the new administration, we are on stable footing. Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and a leading expert on the California economy, presented on a set of economic indicators, showing that much of the national political rhetoric around stagnant wages, the impact of trade, and unemployment is not borne out in the economic data. Labor markets are tight and becoming tighter across most of the United States. This is particularly true in California where the housing supply problem is one of the biggest challenges to continued growth. He also assessed that, while GDP is growing relatively slowly, it is growing and economic fundamentals, such as consumer spending, remain strong. Among the challenges cited for slow growth were self-inflcted wounds and political gridlock, a weak global economy, and the shift to an information economy among others.  And, while there is little chance for a recession (for now), uncertainty surrounding the new administration’s policy agenda clouds the view forward. There are broad ramifications for potential change in policy in healthcare, immigration, social insurance, trade, manufacturing, and more.

San Francisco Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams offered an exclusive perspective on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market and how the Fed is likely to gradually increase its interest rate targets over time so that the economy grows without risking a bubble. Williams emphasized how the central bank is not influenced by partisan politics, staying politically independent, data-driven and focused on its narrow goals to promote low inflation, full employment and financial stability.

Bay Area Council Economic Institute Chair and McKinsey & Company Western Region Managing Partner Kausik Rajgopal and Aspen Institute Fellow Natalie Foster explored the “Future of the Worker” in the new age of automation and the growing gig economy. In the Bay Area, the independent workforce is 30 percent of the working age population with most digital independents working in order to earn when traditional jobs falter, to provide extra income for high cost of living or to buffer uneven income streams. One of the key points discussed was how automation is focused on specific activities rather than entire jobs, and can spur more job growth.

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Council in the Mix as Affordable Care Act Repeal Plans Debated

Anxieties are running high as the new Administration and Congress are signaling imminent changes to the Affordable Care Act if not a full repeal. California and its healthcare industry are heavily invested in the ACA — the law supports over 200,000 jobs in the state, over 1.5 million individuals are enrolled in coverage through Covered California and over 13 million residents now rely on Medi-Cal — and dismantling it would have significant economic as well as human impacts. As such, the Council is actively engaging with lawmakers and experts on both sides of the aisle to ensure pragmatic solutions moving forward.

Additionally, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute will be developing a series of policy briefs to be released throughout the year analyzing policy proposals and their potential impact to California’s economy, its healthcare system, and its citizens. The Council’s Healthcare Committee has assembled a task force to help inform which policy proposals to evaluate and will continue to host regular convenings and discussions. To engage in the Council’s Healthcare Committee, please contact Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Council Doubling Down on Solving Regional Commute Mess

The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.

The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).

Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.

Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month.  Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.

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Covered CA Making Progress, but Challenges Remain

The Bay Area Council’s Healthcare Committee hosted a fascinating discussion this week (Oct. 5) about the current state of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces throughout the nation and expectations for the future of Covered California. Speakers included Blue Shield of California CFO Mick Murray, Covered California Deputy Director James DeBenedetti, and California Association of Health Plans Vice President of State Programs Athena Champman. With several large insurers recently pulling out of the ACA marketplaces, the committee discussed the impact on premium rates and explored ways to stabilize the marketplaces going forward. Fortunately, Covered California has been the nation’s greatest success story, with more enrollees than the next three states combined and the healthiest risk pool in the country. Still, Covered California is pursuing a robust media and marketing strategy to reach more people – including healthier populations – that may otherwise not elect to enroll in healthcare coverage. This will ultimately help to expand the risk pool and stabilize the market in the long term.

The Council has been a leading voice in helping to implement the Affordable Care Act in California, and we will continue working to ensure that all Californians have access to high quality, low-cost healthcare in the future. Special thanks to Dignity Health for hosting this meeting. To engage in the Council’s Healthcare work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

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Council Names Bernard J. Tyson Vice Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has elected Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson Vice Chair of the organization, positioning the Council for continuing strong leadership in addressing the region’s major challenges. Tyson joins Chair Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners, in filling out the Executive Committee’s top two leadership roles.

“Bernard’s appointment will ensure the Council continues a powerful legacy of business leadership in the Bay Area and California,” said Covarrubias, who is in the middle of a two-year term as Chair that ends in 2017. “I’m glad he said yes. It’s comforting to know that a visionary like Bernard is waiting in the wings to carry the Council forward. I’m excited to work with him during my term as Chair to achieve the Council’s important policy goals and make sure that the voice of business is heard loud and clear – here, in Sacramento and D.C.”

As chief executive of a $61 billion a year organization that serves 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, and employs 180,000 workers and 18,000 physicians, Tyson is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential health care leaders. Tyson has played an instrumental role in shaping the Council’s health care policy agenda and its focus on providing high-quality care, controlling costs and making health care accessible for more Californians. And he has provided important leadership on the Council’s Executive Committee of CEOs and other top executives in setting and achieving the Council’s overall policy priorities.

“The Bay Area Council is working across the entire region and across industries to create positive dialogue intended to solve our region’s toughest challenges,” Tyson said. “I’m honored by the appointment, and I look forward to working with Mike Covarrubias and the entire Council leadership to create an even stronger economy and more vibrant communities for everyone who lives and works here.”

Tyson’s selection as Vice Chair adds momentum to the progress the Council is making on its lead policy priorities under Covarrubias. The Council is waging an aggressive campaign to expand workforce housing in California, working to win passage in the state Legislature of a proposal by Governor Jerry Brown to fast track local approval of affordable housing. The Council is also focused on reducing traffic congestion and increasing investment in regional transportation systems, ensuring the Bay Area has a reliable water supply and building stronger connections between employers and higher education institutions to close the middle skills employment gap.

In addition to his role at Kaiser Permanente, Tyson is also an outspoken voice nationally on addressing and improving race relations, and for increasing economic opportunities for boys and men of color. His 2014 essay following Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO – It’s Time to Revolutionize Race Relations – described his experience as an African American CEO and contributed to the national conversation on the status of race in the U.S. Under his leadership, Kaiser Permanente is serving as an early champion of a new regional pilot project launched in Oakland on July 22 that will work to provide jobs for hundreds of Bay Area youths, with specific focus on boys and men of color.

“Bernard J. Tyson is a leader’s leader,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bernard brings to the Council Executive Committee an incredible background of business acumen, knowledge and experience. And while his professional career has been in healthcare, Bernard readily grasps the bigger picture of issues – from housing, to transportation, to workforce opportunity – affecting employers, workers and the broader community. The Council looks forward to thriving with his leadership.”

Read Bernard J. Tyson’s full biography>>

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New BACEI Report Measures Medi-Cal Impact on CA Economy

Last Friday (June 3), the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a major report at an event hosted by Blue Shield of California that documented the massive positive impact the state’s Medi-Cal program has on the economy.  The analysis shows that this program is now the source of coverage for over 13 million people in the state, 6.4 million of whom are working Californians or their children.  According to the report, Medi-Cal coverage adds $1.7 billion to the state’s economy by avoiding lost personal income from illness as a result of being uninsured.

Read the report: Mainstreaming Medi-Cal>>

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley was on hand and praised the report as “essential reading.”  Dooley, who also chairs the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, Covered California, discussed with the members of the Bay Area Council’s Healthcare Committee how we can build on recent innovations to create a more consumer-centric healthcare system of competing stable networks and work together across sectors to improve the health of the people of our state through initiatives such as Let’s Get Healthy California.  To get involved in the Council’s healthcare work, please contact Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.