Happy Holidays

It’s been a busy year here at Healthy Systems Project, and we’re ready for a few well-deserved days off. Before we go, here’s some of what we’ve been up to:

Our CEO, Micah Weinberg, discussing California’s exchange with the UC Irvine’s Center for Health Care Management and Policy at The Paul Merage School of Business

Talking early enrollment figures with Fox News’ Happening Now

Micah on the twists and turns still ahead for the ACA in The Washington Post

Finally, our latest publication, a look into the key issues of Sacramento’s proposed Entertainment and Sports Complex for the Office of Sacramento City Council Member Steve Hansen

With that, we’ll see you in 2014!

– Healthy Systems Project

Covered California as a Catalyst for Payment Reform

For this week’s Think Tank, California Healthline asked: How Can State Hasten Payment Reform?

It’s a great question.

In my opinion, Covered California should act as a catalyst, using its role as an active purchaser to set up true “managed competition”. So, effectively, we would be incentivizing the development of a series of competing Kaiser Permanentes, though they would not all have to be formally integrated. Each of these non-overlapping integrated delivery systems would compensate its providers for improving the health outcomes of its members rather than for the volume of services they provide.

To read my full response, as well as other stakeholder opinions, click here.

October 1st is behind us


Last week, I was among the first wave of users to sign-in to Covered California and explore available options for myself and my family. What was perhaps the most anticipated milestone of federal health reform is now behind us.

I shared my experience with Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle, along with my thoughts on what repealing all or part of the law would mean at this stage in the game:

“Maybe some of the small-bore provisions could have been put on hold before this week. But now it’s over. This is no longer an entertaining parlor-room political argument.”

The full article can be found here.

Q&A with Capitol Weekly

This weekend I sat down with Greg Lucas of Capitol Weekly for a long interview on what to expect from the Affordable Care Act. We discussed California’s approach, the implications for business, and what happens in January.

For the full Q&A, click here.

Morning Edition


Not all health insurance is created equal. Yesterday I spoke with NPR News’ Kelley Weiss for Morning Edition about how the Affordable Care Act will impact existing health care plans and what that means for consumers in 2014.

Click here to listen or read the transcript.

My Family’s Obamacare

Forget the Talking Points. Health Reform’s Impact Will be as Varied as We Are.


How will the Affordable Care Act affect my family and me? The answer, like the law itself, is complicated. There will be as many stories about health reform as there are families. But I’m confident that most of these stories will be good.

I say this both as a health-policy wonk, with my own health policy consulting firm, and as a husband and father. My wife and I live in Sacramento, California, and we have a five-year-old son. My wife also happens to have a pre-existing health condition. It’s nothing life-threatening but it’s just serious enough that she has been turned down for regular health insurance coverage. Up to a third of Americans face a similar issue, according to the Government Accountability Office. Continue reading

Decisions critical to make health reform work

The hope of health reformers, myself included, is that putting the Affordable Care Act into place will resemble the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” After a bumpy transition, everything will be just as it was but better. Zuzu’s petals will be in our pockets, and the whole neighborhood will have shown up to help those in need.

This happy ending would be virtually guaranteed if Congress had passed the law Democrats originally introduced. The wild political process that created the law, though, led to the weakening of the supports that help keep the current system in place. So the future is uncertain, and we need to be extremely careful about the decisions we make if we want to fulfill the promise of reform. Continue reading

Why arena deal makes sense


As Sacramento moves forward with a downtown redevelopment project centered on an entertainment and sports center, it’s important to tune out the ideology both for and against the project. Our actions should be based on a clear-eyed account that weighs the potential benefits and costs for the city.

Arena construction projects generally make economic sense for cities when they do three things: catalyze additional investment that would not have happened otherwise, minimize the downside risk, and preserve other elements of the civic infrastructure. Continue reading