LA County’s Health Chief Dedicated to Providing Healthcare to All

by Justine Dodgen

On March 3, the Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics invite you to hear Dr. Mitchell Katz, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, speak about how policy work can impact issues such as needle exchange, changes in public health law related to HIV and STDs, and increasing access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act.

This event is part of the Quintiles Seminar Series that features prominent academics, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders to discuss prevalent and current themes in health, policy, and economics. As a Director of LA County’s Department of Health Services, Dr. Katz oversees one of the largest health services departments in the nation. The department provides services to thousands of LA’s 10 million residents, over ten percent of whom were uninsured when he took the post in 2010.

A staunch advocate for universal healthcare, Katz’s goals for LA County are to increase access to primary care so that appointment wait times are reduced and fewer patients are going to emergency rooms for routine less-urgent needs. He also aims to save money by redirecting emergency room visits to urgent care clinics, a lower-cost alternative. Katz’s fellow San Franciscans note his political savvy and reputation as a public official who works closely with community leaders, skills that have helped him balance the county’s budget deficit with the demands of a system that serves more than 240,000 low-income and uninsured residents.

Dr. Katz’s passion for local delivery of healthcare is evident throughout his work. Before moving to Los Angeles, Katz spent 13 years as the Director of Health for the City and County of San Francisco, where he worked for over 24 years. His first appointment with the city was Director and Chief of Research of the AIDS Office during the AIDS pandemic.

Katz’s time in San Francisco was marked by his dedication to improving the city’s health; notably, he spearheaded the city’s pioneering university health care program, Healthy San Francisco, and helped devise a law banning cigarette sales in pharmacies. During this time he also served as a Professor Medicine, Epidemiology, and Biostatics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and had an outpatient practice at the Positive Healthcare Practice at San Francisco General Hospital.

In 2012, Dr. Katz received the National Center for Healthcare Leadership’s Warden Leadership Excellence Award in recognition of his commitment to providing public health services to underserved communities and his efforts to create public coordinated care systems.

Dr. Katz, originally from Brooklyn, earned his Bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his MD from Harvard Medical School. His move to the West Coast was prompted by his residency in internal medicine at UCSF.

Katz has two siblings with developmental disabilities, who he says have inspired his efforts to create universal healthcare and influenced his approach to healthcare policy. Katz is an avid cyclist who enjoys biking to work and the LA County-USC Medical Center, where he continues to treat patients.

To attend this free event, please register here. Refreshments will be served.