Soapbox

Coordinated care works for Alzheimer’s

Advocates are pressing Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to invest more in a coordinated care program for Alzheimer’s patients.
Advocates are pressing Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to invest more in a coordinated care program for Alzheimer’s patients. Fotolia/TNS

Like many others, José is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. His daughter Gabriela is taking care of him at home. After many frustrating months of delays and sitting on waiting lists for basic services, Gabriela learned about coordinated care offered by the state of California.

After enrolling in the Coordinated Care Initiative and Cal MediConnect, José was assigned a care manager who serves as a health care advocate for the family. The family is now able to get the services it needs to give José the quality of life he deserves. Despite losing his memory, José is able to stay at home so he can watch his grandchildren grow and play.

José’s is one of many stories collected by the SCAN Foundation, which supports more coordinated services for older adults. Unfortunately, many others in this vulnerable population don’t receive the care they need through Medi-Cal. That is why it is more important than ever to ensure the success of the coordinated care initiative, which began in 2014.

Though Gov. Jerry Brown says he will maintain the current program through the rest of this year, we urge him to support a long-term investment. Like any program of this size – it helps 1.2 million seniors and people with disabilities – we believe it must be fully implemented and evaluated before deciding its future.

The majority of enrollees in the program, like José and his family, are very satisfied with services they receive, including available hospitals, their team of providers and their ability to get questions answered quickly.

Without the initiative, people like José would lose those enhanced services and face yet another disruptive transition. Worse yet, the state would be left with no strategy for improving care to this population.

There are many providers, patient advocates, health plans and others working to ensure the success of the program. Health plans are committed to making this program successful by improving care and lowering costs. Help us bring together the pieces of the puzzle to improve the quality of life for patients like José by supporting a long-term investment in the Coordinated Care Initiative.

Susan DeMarois is state policy director for the California Council of the Alzheimer’s Association and can be reached at sdemarois@alz.org. Charles Bacchi is president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans and can be reached at info@calhealthplans.org.

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