Opinion

Urgent need to keep Coordinated Care Initiative

An elderly man in his wheel chair, taking a a breath of fresh air. (Phboto: Kazoka, via Shutterstock_)

Many seniors and people with disabilities who need services through Medi-Cal and Medicare struggle every day to navigate complex health and long-term care decisions.  Dealing with a serious illness is difficult enough without having your doctors, specialists, long term care providers, and other health care providers disconnected with no overall attention to the holistic needs of the individual.

Now, through the state’s Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI), beneficiaries have a single source to help navigate and coordinate the care needed to improve health and quality of life.  The goal of the CCI, which began in 2014, is to transform California’s fragmented health and long-term care services into a system that is coordinated and provides high quality, fully integrated, person-centered care to seniors and people with disabilities.

Generally, enrollees in the program are assigned a dedicated care manager who serves as a health care advocate for the family.   And recent program improvements will streamline enrollment, protect beneficiaries and extend continuity of care – meaning seniors will be able to stay with their current doctors longer.

A devastating loss to those who are finally able to put together the pieces of the puzzle to improve the quality of life for themselves and their loved ones.

That’s why the coalition supporting it, including the Congress of California Seniors, is working to ensure that this program is kept in place for the long haul.  According to a recent survey conducted by the University of California, the vast majority of enrollees in the program are very satisfied with services they receive, including the hospitals available in their network, the teamwork of providers they see, and their ability to get questions answered in a timely manner. CCI consumers also report lower out-of-pocket costs and improved access to behavioral health.

And though the CCI is relatively new, 1.2 million Californians have already enrolled in the program. Now we need to expand the reach of the program and ensure that the state makes a long-term investment in the program.

Governor Jerry Brown has said he will maintain the current program through the rest of this year, but has also indicated that the program could be in jeopardy unless more Californians enroll in it.

This would be a devastating loss to those already in the program who are finally able to put together the pieces of the puzzle to improve the quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. Not to mention, the state would be left with no strategy for improving the delivery of care to this population.

We all must work together to ensure everyone who can benefit from CCI enrolls in it. Integrating long-term health care services, in-home services and community-based care options not only helps patients, but is a platform for long term payment and system delivery reform for integrated care and savings to the state.

We hope that more people in need of these critical coordinated services will enroll by visiting the www.calduals.org  web site, and that the state, in turn, will make a long-term commitment to coordinated care.

Ed’s Note: Gary Passmore is vice president of the Congress of California Seniors.


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