The COVID-19 crisis has shown us the best of the American healthcare system and the extraordinary workforce that makes it possible, but it has also revealed its shortcomings. Conflicting federal, state, and local strategies, unsustainable funding mechanisms, and most shamefully mortality rates that are significantly higher for people of color. The Bay Area Council recognizes the gravity of this moment and the need for systemic change.
2020 Policy Activities
A focus on health equity –Despite regional, state-wide, and national efforts to improve the quality of and access to healthcare, health disparities associated with individuals’ race and socioeconomic status continue to persist. Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on infections, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 have been strongly correlated with social and economic characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, and income – showcasing that communities of color, for example, are at a disproportionately higher risk of infection and death.
Maintaining the stability of our healthcare system – As health systems worked to expand surge capacity and prepare for the worst, healthcare spending in the U.S. dropped 18 percent in the first quarter of 2020 as primary care physicians stopped seeing patients, offices closed, and elective surgeries were cancelled. The Council is working to ensure the financial stability of our world-class health systems in these unpredictable times.
Universal coverage – If nothing else, the outbreak of COVID-19 has underlined the inequities in our system and the need for a system that provides universal coverage. Healthcare providers in our nation have a legal and moral obligation to provide care to everyone who needs it – including primary care, which has been shown to reduce the need for higher-cost interventions – and the Council remains committed to building a system that lives up to this ideal.
William M. Isenberg, MD, PhD, Vice President, Chief Quality & Safety Officer, Sutter Health
Carrie Owen Plietz, President, Northern California, Kaiser Permanente
Healthcare Committee: The Bay Area Council remains committed to building a healthcare system that works for all Californians. Participate in quarterly meetings to support our efforts to build a system that lives up to this ideal.