California Health Advocates extends its heartfelt thanks to Dr. Mark Smith, President & CEO of California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF). Under his leadership, CHCF has focused on how to improve the delivery, financing, and quality of medical care in California — a strategy that other statewide foundations have not readily pursued. CHCF employs a hands-on approach by working directly with doctors, hospitals, insurers, government officials, and consumer and patient groups to help them do a better job of delivering quality health care in California. For CHA, this approach has translated in CHCF being a major supporter of our work and mission in supporting the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) services, and, through policy advocacy, education and training, creating a well-informed and empowered Medicare population in California.
CHCF shows a history of responsive grant-making when it comes to addressing the needs of California Medicare consumers and has supported California Health Advocates in trying new strategies to address the many unique challenges that Medicare consumers face when looking for timely and accurate information about their coverage options. Out of the ‘starting gate’ in 1997, the newly formed CHCF provided each HICAP office with desktop computers and Internet access which revolutionized California Health Advocates’ statewide communication and organizing capacities among the network. California Health Advocates’ first CHCF grant was received in 1999 when many Medicare Health Maintenance Organization (HMO’s) were pulling out of several counties and as a result adversely affected the health care coverage of thousands of consumers across California. Through the CHCF supported ‘HICAP Immediate Response Initiative,’ grant funds were provided directly to individual HICAP offices to provide education and outreach following the Medicare HMO pull-outs. Acknowledging the importance of technology in access to health care information long before many in the field, CHCF supported California Health Advocates from the early stages of technology planning, to the establishment of the CHA-HICAP intra-net communication systems, to the launching of two major web sites, and finally the sponsorship of a one-of-a-kind web-based Medicare Part D discussion forum. CHCF has been a major supporter of other key projects such as the publication of Medicare Part D Policy Issue Briefs (developed and produced by California Health Advocates and Medicare Rights Center), the California Medicare News eNewsletter, and the formation of the California Medicare Coalition. CHCF has been an active and progressive partner with California Health Advocates throughout the past ten years.
Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, the California HealthCare Foundation continues to play a critical role in California Health Advocates’ development as a state and nationally recognized advocacy organization for Medicare beneficiaries in California. California Health Advocates is honoring Dr. Mark Smith at a special 10-year anniversary reception for his dedication and leadership in improving the access to and quality of care for Californians who rely on Medicare to meet their health care needs.