California Health Reform

Convergence California Health Reform Initiative

CHRI’s broad coalition of stakeholders released a report recommending that California establish a new government entity to address health care costs and affordability.  After a year-long study, including analysis of efforts in Massachusetts, Maryland, and other states, CHRI’s recommendation adds weight to the growing chorus of support for Governor Newsom’s proposed Office of Health Care Affordability.  California’s health care spending has been growing more rapidly than wage growth or inflation, creating an affordability problem.  To address this, the new entity would set annual cost targets, increase transparency regarding provider performance, and take other steps as outlined in the report. 

Four of our stakeholders discussed with Project Director Vicki Veenker the unique conversations they were able to have at CHRI’s convenings and how they managed to achieve consensus on challenging issues related to our health care system. Bill Barcellona, EVP of America’s Physican Groups, Laurel Lucia, Director of the Health Care Program at UC Berkeley Labor Center, Gary Cohen, VP at Blue Shield of California, and Bill Kramer, Exec. Director for Health Policy at Pacific Business Group on Health, share their experiences in this video:


The Challenge
For more than twenty years, California’s leaders have been debating how to effectively reform California’s health care system. The debate continues to take center stage as the Governor has prioritized health system policymaking since taking office in 2019. Policymakers and health care leaders alike believe the time is right for bold reforms that will make health care more affordable to consumers, businesses and governments, and provide equitable access to high-quality care and service.

Project Overview
Convergence brought together a broad group of leaders representing diverse constituencies for a deep, creative discussion on pathways to health care reform. As a neutral, non-partisan convener, Convergence facilitated the conversation by establishing trust, uncovering common ground, and building consensus.

Using Convergence’s dialogue-to-action model, the California Health Reform Initiative (CHRI) launched its stakeholder process in October 2018 with its first stakeholder meeting in Sacramento. Senior officials representing providers, consumers, employers, insurers, workers, and academia came together for a respectful and robust conversation about common goals for California’s health care system. CHRI held seven convenings over more than a year, along with numerous working group sessions and videoconferences.

Moving Forward
We cannot yet know what the impact of the pandemic will be on the state budget process and this proposal, but CHRI has added its voice to the discussion.  We will assist our stakeholders in speaking publicly in support of their recommendation, as appropriate and as circumstances allow.

The CHRI Report and Recommendation is the first-ever generated from a Convergence project outside of Washington, DC. As Convergence continues to enhance and expand our impact in this second decade of operation, CHRI demonstrates that the Convergence process works outside the Beltway and at the state level. 

Prior Convergence Health Projects
Convergence has substantial experience with health-related projects. At the national level, Convergence convened a successful Health Reform Roundtable involving ideologically diverse and nationally respected health policy thought leaders. The members of that separate Convergence effort reached agreement on bipartisan policy pathways forward at two critical points in the 2017 health care debates. Convergence remains engaged on a national level in health care policy issues through the Future of Health project.

Convergence has received generous funding from Maja Kristin and the Hellman Family to support the California Health Reform Initiative, as well as generous pro bono support from White & Case LLP.