The California Health Report shared the views of L.A. Care CEO John Baackes, as he talked about addressing the social determinants of health in "Are We Asking the Wrong Question About Medi-Cal?"
When we consider that almost 75 million people in the United States depend on Medicaid for their health care, Baackes says we need to look at why so many people are living and working in poverty. Moreover, if critics are so concerned about supporting Medicaid, why are we not working on more ways to lift Americans out of hardship?
A health plan like L.A. Care can play a role in creating a pathway out of poverty. Because of the regular contact we have with members on Medi-Cal, the name for Medicaid in California, we have the ability to identify the social determinants that have become barriers to rising out of poverty. As we help these people manage their health, we can address those barriers, and this may help lift people financially, as we potentially see a reduction in the need for certain health services.
Social determinants of health — the social, economic and physical conditions under which we are born and live through on a daily basis — influence our risk for disease and how long we live. They include factors like having access to healthy food and clean drinking water, as well as having safe parks, good schools and a stable income.
L.A. Care has made addressing social determinants of health a priority — a way to address our members' whole health and well-being. Current efforts include a $20 million committment to permanent supportive housing for the homeless and expansion plans for L.A. Care's Family Resource Centers, which provide community-based education resources and free exercise and healthy lifestyle classes.
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.