September 17, 2012
In California and throughout the U.S., there is an air of uncertainty and volatility as a Presidential election lurches toward its conclusion and the economy slowly recovers. Given our foundation’s unchanging mission to improve the lives of underserved Californians, the daily question we ask ourselves is what can we do to help change their lives for the better? Within this type of transformative and challenging environment, it is often those who take strategic risks that reap the greatest rewards.
This is especially true in the realm of health care, where there is still a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than two years after its passage and three months after it was upheld by the Supreme Court. The state of California took a risk when it asserted itself as the pace car for ACA implementation. As a result, it has been moving forward at full speed for more than two years, and is far ahead of others in its establishment of the Health Benefit Exchange and planning for Medicaid expansions, which stand to benefit millions of Californians. Meanwhile, the states that waited for the Supreme Court ruling before initiating implementation activities now view the 2014 deadline as unachievable.
Similarly, organizations working to end domestic violence (DV) face new uncertainties about their future, amidst continued partisan squabbling around the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Along with chronic state budget shortfalls and increasing demand for their services, the task at hand seems more Sisyphean than ever. In San Joaquin County, we’ve recently seen how two organizations embraced the risk of merging during this period of profound structural change. Family and Youth Services (FAYS) and the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County merged to become a new organization, Women’s Center – Youth & Family Services. This merger will make services for youth and family more effective and seamless, as nearly 80 percent of the youth served have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. The domestic violence field – just like health care – must be willing to adapt and take chances in order to succeed.
Shielded from the pressures of market competition, government regulation, and the continuous search for funding faced by most non-profits, foundations are uniquely situated to support grantees and partners as they adapt to unfamiliar landscapes. Blue Shield of California Foundation will continue to promote strategic risk-taking and fund innovative projects that target new areas of opportunity. We are proud to be a part of California’s leadership during this period of transformation, and remain dedicated to the organizations that are bravely embracing change in order to better serve our most vulnerable residents.
Peter V. Long, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Blue Shield of California Foundation