Four people to watch in 2020

Jeff vonKaenel

History is made by people. Here are four who will have a big impact on Sacramento in 2020.

In 2019, Sutter Health agreed to pay $575 million in an antitrust settlement and to comply with court-ordered reform. In 2020, Sutter Health President and CEO Sarah Krevans will have to oversee the revamping of Sutter's health care system, including capping out-of-network costs, halting practices that prevent access to lower-cost plans and numerous other reforms. Sutter's manipulations of the marketplace are one factor contributing to hospital costs that are 30% higher in Northern California than in Southern California, according to health care experts.

With hospital fees averaging $3,687 per person, according to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this could be costing Northern California residents billions of dollars.

Sutter's court-ordered reforms will have significant impacts on both the quality and the cost of our region's health care.

Sacramento City Unified School District, which has 76 campuses and serves 43,000 students, must address its budget deficit to avoid financial insolvency in 2020. Much of the blame goes to a series of school superintendents who agreed to contracts that did not sufficiently reduce ongoing deficits.

But part of the blame also resides with the Sacramento City Teachers Association, whose negotiation tactics have contributed to the district's financial dysfunction. In 2020, the person best positioned to prevent a state takeover is John Borsos, SCTA’s executive director. If Borsos continues to play hardball, then the district will likely go into receivership, an outcome that will not be good for the students, the teachers or the union.

Or Borsos could compromise to save the district, including on health care costs. The district pays significantly more than other districts; the union could support a less expensive health provider such as Kaiser, with co-pays, like other school districts. But Borsos continues to reject this idea. He has a big decision to make in 2020.

Every night, more than 5,000 of our neighbors will be without housing. They will be sleeping in the cold, in the heat, in the rain, on our sidewalks, in our alleys and our parks. This is both a public policy failure and a moral failure. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, more than anyone else, has the commitment, intellectual depth, political connections and the bully pulpit to work on this problem. Recently appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead a new Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Steinberg will now spearhead the statewide effort. Steinberg has earned our trust. He deserves our support on this issue.

Our community needs an organization that can bring together people with different points of view and from different backgrounds to discuss problems and solutions. Amanda Blackwood, executive director and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, believes her organization can play that role. So do I.

The chamber can become our community's big tent, where different views are welcome and ideas are shared, as opposed to the approach of the state and national chambers of commerce, which represent only the most regressive parts of the business community.

In 2019, Blackwood laid a foundation for a better chamber. In 2020, I hope to see the fruits of her labor.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.