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CHCF’s Mark Smith on Converging Market and Public Health Interests

February 5th, 2010

In an interview in the February issue of Health Affairs, California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) President and CEO Mark Smith reflects on successes and failures in areas where market interest and public interest converge in health care. Smith told Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer:

The policy world has built enrollment barriers for people in an incremental fashion. Every time a new program is created, there’s a new set of eligibility rules and enrollment processes and procedures. Before you know whether you’re eligible for program number seven, you have to prove that you’re not eligible for programs six, five, four, three, two, or one. That’s the kind of insanity that we place on the backs of working families, and the Medicaid and social service systems. We said, “There’s got to be a better way.”

To get at this issue, CHCF brought together software developers and public policy experts. The result? The development of Health-e-App and One-e-App, web-based applications that guide low-income families through the complex process of applying for a full range of health and social service programs.  Because these systems have built-in error checks, applicants are prompted to make on-the-spot corrections, reducing errors by 40 percent and consequently speeding up the paperwork process and subsequent enrollment. 

In the interview, Smith also contemplates health system challenges facing both the nation and California during a time of economic instability.  He sees the next several years as “a period of great uncertainty and, hopefully, great experimentation,” with health care providers and policymakers working together “to examine an alternative to our current path.”

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