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06/03/2020

Jennifer Kent, Former Director of the California Dept. of Health Care Services, Discusses California's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (June 2nd)

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Since the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains, as the The New England Journal of Medicine termed last week, laconic, the US response continues to be best understood at the state level.  California immediately comes to mind for obvious reasons.  Among others, it has a population of 40 million or 12% of the nation’s total (and if it was its own nation, would constitute the world’s fifth largest economy).  To date, California has limited COVID-19 related deaths to 4,250 or 4% of total COVID-19 related US deaths - notwithstanding having a substantial homeless population (approximately 20% of the nation's total). 

During this 28 minute podcast Ms. Kent discusses moreover the state's actions in response to the pandemic, especially concerning those most vulnerable including seniors, the poor or the states Medicaid, termed Medi-Cal, population and the homeless.  She also discusses the state's efforts at addressing related mental health and those with substance use disorders as well as whether the COVID-19 infection rate has peaked in the state and the state's predicament in funding its Medi-Cal program going forward. 

Ms. Jennifer Kent is currently CEO of the Sacramento-based Kent Group.  Previously she served as Director of the California Department of Health Care Services.  As Director, she Jkentoversaw the second largest public healthcare system in the nation with an annual budget of over $100 billion and serving approximately 13 million Californians.  She oversaw the administration of twenty-four managed care plans as well as 56 county behavioral health plans.  Ms. Kent has also held leadership roles in the state's Health & Human Services Agency and Governor’s office.  Her previous experience also includes working in the private sector as a lobbyist, consultant and association executive.  Ms. Kent earned her undergrad degree at Saint Mary's College of California and her MPA from the University of Southern California. 

Per my mention of California Governor Newsom's response to the pandemic see, for example, https://www.gov.ca.gov/california-takes-action-to-combat-covid-19/.  

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