With so much appreciation for the ITUP Staff
As we enter the holiday season, I’d like to take a moment to honor and thank ITUP staff. We have been together for 20 years, you made the program what it has been and helped California to become one of the nation’s leaders in implementing the Affordable Care Act and drastically reducing the numbers of uninsured California residents.
We founded ITUP in the aftermath of Congress’ failure to enact the Clinton health plan. The immediate challenges were the near collapse of the LA County Health Department, closure of its clinics, trauma centers, a major hospital or two, the ballot initiative attacks on coverage for immigrants supported by the Wilson Administration, and the federal block grants of the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) program to the states and the accompanying restrictions on immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits. Major opportunities for new coverage were the CHIP for uninsured children, Medicaid §1931b for uninsured families, and §1115 waivers for the uninsured in Los Angeles County.
Initial ITUP staff and contractors during the ‘90s included: Sepi Djavaheri, Daphne Radfar, Ari Shofet, Peter Long, Roohe Ahmed, Burt Margolin, Janice Frates and Shoshana Djavaheri.
The Bush years were a time of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with little federal attention to care and coverage of the uninsured and ending with a catastrophic economic collapse. In California, it was a time of local innovation amid recurrent and unresolved state fiscal crises. The policy leadership at the Alameda Alliance and Santa Clara Family Health Plans led the spread of Healthy Kids programs for immigrant children throughout the state. Healthy San Francisco developed a program for the county’s uninsured regardless of income or immigration status. San Mateo, Santa Clara and Contra Costa developed comparable coverage in their counties. New waiver coverage opportunities were available and successfully initiated in Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern under the 2005 waiver. The Schwarzenegger Administration and state legislative leaders sought to cover all Californians in legislation tailored to California, but modeled after Massachusetts’ RomneyCare, that was an antecedent to the Affordable Care Act.
New ITUP staff and contractors during this period included: Brooke Fox, Erica Pittman, Michelle Marciniak, Van Ta, Nidhi Nakra, Megan Hickey, Alyssa Kim Schlaboski, Jay Espejo, Christine Chen, Jolly Mannanal, Sofia Sojourner-Newton, Veronica Richardson, Yahaira Plata, Kim Dam, Rochelle Tuttle, Mike Sloyan and Ansony Kim.
On entering office President Obama was faced with a major recession, the imminent collapse of the banks, stock market, real estate, housing and auto industries. State and local revenues were in crisis due to high joblessness and lowered tax revenues. His stimulus packages rescued the auto industry and the financial industry, protected consumer savings and investments, saved many homes from foreclosure and rescued state and local governments from their dire straits. The Affordable Care Act cut the nation’s uninsured rate, slowed the rates of increase in health spending and put a stop to a range of insurance industry practices that redlined the severely and chronically ill.
California’s implementation of the ACA was an ObamaCare success story -- a model for the nation with large reductions in the state’s uninsured residents due both to Covered California and the Medi-Cal expansion and also a strong government arm controlling rising premiums and out of pocket costs in the individual market. The 2010 waiver served California as a fast track to implement the ACA and the 2015 waiver as the next step to improve outcomes for the chronically ill and those with behavioral health disorders. California’s legislature took its own important steps to cover children regardless of immigration status.
ITUP staff and contractors during the eight extraordinary Obama years included: John Connolly, Kandis Driscoll, Kiwon Yoo, Dora Khoubian, Christina Vane-Perez, Neelam Gupta, Sara Watson, Vishaal Pegany, David Yun, Chauntrece Washington, Adam Dougherty, Ashley Cohen, Mona Shah, Lyndsey Nolan, Veronika Kisilev, Karen Kalk, Jeffrey Kho, Marina Acosta, and Carolina Coleman.
As we transition to the Trump presidency, the economy is strong, the stock markets robust, the unemployment and poverty and uninsured rates are low and declining. President Trump has made many promises for more and better jobs and better, less costly health care, stronger economic growth and improved national infrastructure. He has made many promises to improve the lot of those left behind by the economic advances of globalization in rural communities and small towns and in the nation’s central cities. President Obama has transferred incredibly strong foundations to the nation’s next President. It is the task of the next generation of health advocates and California political leaders to see that the nation’s important economic and social progress continues to flourish unabated under President-elect Trump.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year.
December 20, 2016