Jun 3, 2020 • 29M

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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David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: •Implementation of the Affordable Care Act •Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues •Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA •Healthcare research •Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues •Public health issues including the social determinates of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
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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 oversaw 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/.