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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

Assemblyman’s Work Bringing All Sides to the Table

The Honoree – Public Policy Advocate Dario Frommer By SHELLY GARCIA Senior Reporter When Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer was campaigning for his seat representing the 43rd district, he went door to door to get a sense of the concerns of the community. What he learned ultimately gave rise to no less than eight new pieces of legislation to help reform the state’s ailing health care system. “One of the things that’s notable about what he did is he stepped up without a lot of prior experience and took on a lot of the major health care issues,” said Margaret Laws, director of public financing and policy for California HealthCare Foundation, a non-profit that works to improve health care delivery. As assemblyman and chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Frommer has introduced, authored and shepherded bills to expand health care coverage to more workers, help foster accountability by hospitals, improve patient care at HMOs and help children with asthma get needed medication. This year, he also crafted an unusual, incentive-based reimbursement plan for nursing homes that care for MediCal patients. By employing a self-assessment that will raise about $250 million, the operators will then be eligible for matching federal funds that will add a total of $500 million in funding for these institutions. At the same time, AB 1629 provides incentives for nursing homes to reap even higher reimbursement rates by improving the quality of care they offer. “He’s worked on a really diverse range of issues, from pediatric asthma to the intricacies of hospital financing,” said Laws. “He’s very engaged, a very quick study, and I think he really rose to the occasion.” Frommer, whose district includes Burbank, North Hollywood, parts of Valley Glen and Valley Village, Glendale, Los Feliz and Silver Lake, credits his staff. But he has also actively sought input from nearly every facet of the community physicians, hospital administrators, labor unions. “You have to learn to sift through what’s real and not, and then you try to find that common ground, and there’s a lot of times where you can make some policy advances,” said Frommer. Frommer, who grew up in Glendale, said his parents helped to foster in him a sense of community responsibility, nurtured still more by his grandparents, who on his mother’s side, immigrated from Mexico. “They had a very tough life,” he said. “That also inspired me that sometimes people need a hand, not necessarily a handout, but they need a hand. And sometimes the role of public service is to help people realize their dreams by giving them a hand when they need it.” The Finalists Dr. Ilena Blicker Los Angeles County Medical Association Dr. Ilena Blicker is a neurologist with a private practice in Glendale, and is on the staff of two area hospitals: Glendale Memorial and Verdugo Hills. Yet still, she finds time to help shape public health policy in Los Angeles County and the state. Blicker, who paid her dues as an intern, resident and fellow at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, is immediate past president of the L.A. County Medical Association, a member of the state-level California Medical Association. Both groups are responsible for advocating for its members mostly physicians, Blicker said but that’s not all the groups do. As president of the L.A. County association from 2001 to 2002, Blicker dealt with issues ranging from physicians’ reimbursement from HMOs and health insurance. Still a member of the association’s board, the Philadelphia native and Medical College of Pennsylvania graduate chairs the group’s bioethics committee, which brings together 10 lawyers and 10 doctors to discuss impending issues such as stem cell research and ethics of “health care rationing,” among others, Blicker said. Slav Kandyba Albert Senella Tarzana Treatment Centers In response to citizens’ attempts to enact governmental change, some people like to utter the clich & #233;, “you can’t fight city hall.” Don’t tell that to Albert Senella. Senella, Tarzana Treatment Centers’ longtime chief operating officer, has been a health care public policy advocate for over 25 years. Intransigence from state and local governments has not stopped him from working to reform policies in the health field, especially in the alcohol and drug treatment arena. “Government bureaucracy and stigmatism toward substance abuse both in the public at large and in the government, have been major obstacles I’ve worked to overcome. Many legislators believe incarceration is the answer rather than substance abuse treatment. All research has shown otherwise,” Senella said. Listening to Senella’s resume sounds like a roll call for California’s public policy venues that deal with substance abuse. The health care advocate serves as president of the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives and chair of the Coalition of Alcohol and Drug Associations. He is a member of the policy forum of the director’s advisory council for the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. Jeff Weiss

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