UC Davis Health System Health Policy Leaders Named to "Let's Get Healthy California" Task Force

Press Release | UC Davis Health System, Let's Get Healthy California Task Force | June 5, 2012

Joy Melinikow and Kenneth W. Kizer, physicians at UC Davis Health System and national leaders in health policy and research, have been appointed to the Let's Get Healthy California Task Force, a group established in response to Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.'s executive order of May 3 to develop a 10-year plan to make Californians healthier. California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana S. Dooley announced the Task Force members and panel of Expert Advisors on June 4.

Dooley will serve as Task Force co-chair along with Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Don Berwick, a former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Berwick also served as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the Obama administration.

The Task Force and Expert Advisors will work together to gather, evaluate and prioritize the best ideas and practices and oraganize them into a 10-year plan to improve quality, control costs, promote personal responsibility for individual health and advance health equity. The report will establish baselines for key health indicators, identify obstacles to better care, provide fiscally prudent recommendations and create a framework for measuring improvements in key areas. These include reducing diabetes, asthma, childhood obesity, hypertension and sepsis-related deaths; reducing hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge; and increasing the number of children receiving recommended vaccines by age 3.

Task force members include innovative leaders in health care, technology, research and philanthropy with a strong record of developing successful prevention and wellness strategies, as well as individuals representing patients and consumers, health-care providers, health plans, employers, community-based organizations and organized labor. The members from UC Davis Health System are recognized leaders in health policy and research.

Melnikow is a professor of family and community medicine and director of the UC Davis Center for Health Care Policy and Research, which brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers who work to improve health outcomes by conducting research on health-care access, delivery, outcomes and costs. Her own research has explored under-examined issues related to women's health, including the prevention, detection and treatment of breast, cervical and other gynecologic cancers. It also has focused on patient preferences and decision-making, patient access to preventive services and cost-effectiveness analysis in women's health care, including studies on the use of tamoxifen for breast cancer risk reduction and providing policy makers with a user-friendly cost-effectiveness model on breast cancer screening for underserved women.

As an appointed member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a leading independent panel of national experts in prevention and primary care convened by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Melnikow conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including cancer prevention and early detection.

Kizer is director of the UC Davis Health System's new Institute for Population Health Improvement and a distinguished professor at the School of Medicine (Department of Emergency Medicine) and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. He is an authority on public health and health-care quality improvement. As director of the state Department of Health Services from 1984 to 1991, he led California's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and established the state's famed tobacco control program. He implemented the largest population-based cancer registry and the largest birth defects monitoring program in the world and founded the "5-a-Day" for better health nutrition program that was later adopted by the National Cancer Institute.

From 1994 to1999, Kizer served as the Under Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and chief executive officer of the nation's largest health-care system. While at the VA, Kizer engineered what is widely regarded as the largest and most successful health-care "turnaround" in U.S. history, including the largest deployment of an electronic health record anywhere to date. The internationally acclaimed transformation of VA health care is often cited as a model for health-care reform.

Kizer was the founding president and CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF), where he led efforts to establish consensus-based national standards for the public reporting of health-care performance data. While at NQF, Kizer developed the list of adverse health-care events, commonly known as "never events," and promulgated the first evidence-based "safe practices" to prevent medical errors. A long-time proponent of health-information technology, Kizer also served as chairman and CEO of MedSphere Systems Corporation, the nation's leading commercial provider of open-source information technology for the health-care industry. Like Melnikow, he has served on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 631-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1000-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit healthsystem.ucdavis.edu.