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ITUP to Merge with LA Health Action

We are excited to announce that as of January 1, 2012, ITUP will be merging with LA Health Action (LAHA). LAHA’s overarching goal is to improve the health of low-income Los Angeles County communities through policy advocacy and strategic alliances. While ITUP focuses on statewide policy, we are pleased to bring on LAHA to provide an emphasis on LA’s large and rapidly improving delivery system. LAHA will help pursue ITUP’s mission to expand health coverage to all Californians with the organization of local collaborative meetings and the publication of research papers on LA’s low-income and uninsured population.

LAHA organizes quarterly health collaborative meetings, which host a series of key health leaders within LA County. The last meeting featured Dr. Mitch Katz, Director of the LA County Department of Health Services. Dr. Katz formerly served as the head of San Francisco’s public health department, where he played a key role in developing Healthy San Francisco.

Dr. Katz provided an update of the implementation of Healthy Way LA (LA’s Low Income Health Program) and the transformation of LA’s delivery system through collaboration and integration. To date, there are 240,000 people enrolled in LA’s DHS system (100,000 in HWLA), all of whom have a specific medical provider and clinic. The goal is to enroll 500,000 (200,000 in HWLA) before 2014.

Although the process has been going slower than expected, it has led to a great deal of collaboration within the County. For example, DHS has worked with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to submit a proposal for 56 supportive housing units for people who remain in the hospital because they lack an external support system. The proposal is estimated to cost $500,000/year, which will be offset by the prevention of a minimum of 10 hospitalization days per unit. In addition, Community Partners have agreed to see primary care patients, allowing DHS to move 20,000 patients currently in specialty care to primary care.

LAHA released a report co-authored by Community Health Councils providing key results and recommendations from patient forums on HWLA and the upcoming systems changes to DHS with ACA implementation.

Dr. Katz identified IT has the area that has the most room for improvement. LA currently has 6 different servers for 6 hospitals that are unable to communicate with each other. DHS secured a $150,000 Blue Shield Foundation grant dedicated to modifying LEADER (DPSS’ Medi-Cal enrollment system) so that it may be used for HWLA enrollment in mid-2012. Next year, DHS is also hoping to improve the contracting and enrollment systems, patient experience and availability of services.

We look forward to providing more information about LA’s safety net transformation through our merger with LAHA. Read more about LA’s plan over the next few years here.