Author Archives: Michael Hochman

Primary Care and the Next Phase of Health Care Reform

Oct 29, 2014, 11:00 AM, Posted by Martin Serota, Michael Hochman

Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, is medical director for innovation at AltaMed Health Services, the largest independent federally qualified health center in the United States. AltaMed has enrolled more than 30,000 Southern Californians in Medi-Cal and Covered California, the state health care exchange. Hochman is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Martin Serota, MD, is AltaMed’s chief medical officer.

Although the dust is still settling, most indicators suggest that the first wave of national health care reform was a success, particularly in California.  More than 8 million Americans enrolled in commercial health plans under the Affordable Care Act, surpassing targets set by the Obama administration. Many more will qualify for plans under Medicaid expansion. As leaders at a community health center that serves a large population of low-income patients—many of whom currently lack coverage—we could not be happier about the new opportunities for our patients.

But we also know that the work is far from complete. Health care reform will only be a success if coverage expansion results in improvements in quality and efficiency, and better health for the population. As we know from the Massachusetts experience, it took time and a lot of effort for these benefits to ensue. Only now, several years after health care reform began in Massachusetts, are residents of the state starting to reap the benefits.

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Stimulating Primary Care Transformation

Nov 4, 2013, 9:00 AM, Posted by Michael Hochman

Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, is medical director for Innovation at AltaMed Health Services, a 43-site federally qualified health center in Southern California.  He completed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012.  While a Clinical Scholar, Hochman co-led a primary care demonstration that was published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine.  He recently published, 50 Studies Every Doctor Should Know.

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Primary care in the United States is at a crossroads.  As health care becomes increasingly disjointed and costs continue to rise, primary care providers face increasing pressure to take charge of the health system.  Indeed, we know that health care systems with more developed primary care infrastructures are more efficient and of higher quality than those with a weaker primary care foundation.

But at the same time, more and more health care professionals are shying away from careers in primary care.  Not only is the work challenging (late-night phone calls, numerous tests and studies to follow up on, ever-increasing regulatory requirements), but the pay is lower than in other fields of medicine.

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