Meeting the Demand for a Healthy California

Peter Long, Ph.D

For the last year, Blue Shield of California Foundation has been closely following the work of the California Future Health Workforce Commission. This group of health, labor and education experts from across the state has developed a detailed action plan for building and supporting the robust, diverse health workforce California needs to meet growing demands for quality health care in every region and community across the state.

California is a place of rapid social and economic change. Our accelerated pace requires innovation, collaboration and ambition today, to ensure a healthier future tomorrow. The health of our communities is rooted in the safety and wellbeing of our families and neighborhoods, opportunities for social mobility for our children, and equitable conditions for all.

The recommendations within this report call for long-term, high-impact, future-oriented shifts that will lead to healthy communities, where providers and patients speak the same language and share cultural values, where technological advancements connect, rather than strand, low-income neighborhoods and where social transformations lead to better collaboration and health for all, especially among communities of color.

The Commission’s bold set of recommendations outlines a plan to eliminate the projected shortfall of health providers in the field of primary care by 2030, while also nearly eliminating a severe psychiatry shortage and bolstering the pipeline of students and health workers who seek to provide care in underserved communities.

California is a place of rapid social and economic change. Our accelerated pace requires innovation, collaboration and ambition today, to ensure a healthier future tomorrow.

Expanded pipeline programs, college recruitment and student supports will help 30,000 underrepresented students enter the health workforce. These include immigrants and people of color, and low-income, rural, and first-generation college students, among others. Providers and workers who are representative of our state’s diversity, with lived experience and deep understanding of our many unique communities will produce better health outcomes.

The expansion of the home health care workforce by an additional 600,000 will not only meet the need for care but will break health, behavioral health and human services siloes. These workers will be able to identify risks and address some of the most significant social determinants of health that occur in homes, like domestic violence, which affects one in five children, and one in three women, and has profound multigenerational mental and physical health impacts.

Scaling the workforce and supporting community health workers, promotores, and peer providers through certification, training, and reimbursement will help communities across the state access prevention programs, social services, behavioral health and recovery services. They will foster collaboration in communities and across sectors, and connect people to social supports, care and a broader network of resources that will enable them to meet challenges and thrive. As a result, California communities will not only grow healthier but also more resilient to whatever new challenges the future holds for our dynamic state

Blue Shield of California Foundation is eager to help advance these recommendations and see these outcomes achieved, understanding it will take commitments from a range of partners to make them a reality – from state and federal government to philanthropy, health-sector employers, colleges and universities, health plans, and businesses. These recommendations will support our bold goal of making California the healthiest state in the country with the lowest rates of domestic violence. While we know that healthcare workers do not equal health, we believe that a workforce that meets the needs of the population is an essential building block to meeting the needs of all Californians.  

We encourage you to read all the recommendations, Executive Summary, and share the report with your networks. This is an important first step to designing the future of health care. We invite you to join us as we bring the ideas to life in the months ahead. 

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