34 Assistant deputy director California Department of Health Care Services
DESPITE HER LONGTIME DREAM of becoming a doctor, life’s twists and turns led Jacey Cooper elsewhere.
After giving birth to twin girls when she was 22, Cooper ended up starting her career in risk management. It wasn’t until a few years later that she found her way into healthcare delivery, landing at COPE Health Solutions, a management consultancy.
While at COPE, Cooper was assigned to work on the launch of a new initiative at Kern Medical Center, a public hospital in Bakersfield, Calif. It turned out to be the start of a very successful collaboration, which included the implementation and management of Kern County’s indigent-care program. Through Cooper’s leadership, the program’s medical costs were slashed by 41% over four years. She also cut administrative costs by almost a quarter. She attributes the reduction to improved care coordination, increased access to behavioral health services and a focus on the most frequent ER users.
Recognizing those impressive results, California Gov. Jerry Brown this year appointed Cooper to serve as assistant deputy director of the state Department of Health Care Services. In this role, Cooper oversees four key areas: long-term care, systems of care, managed-care quality and monitoring, and managed-care operations. Cooper, who juggles her work responsibilities while being a mother of four, was drawn to the role because it combines her care-delivery expertise with policy and management. She’s especially excited about the opportunity to help beneficiaries directly through policy.
“Healthcare is very fragmented and siloed for a lot of people,” Cooper said, noting that she is passionate about working to strengthen healthcare for the most-vulnerable populations. “I push harder for decisions that break down those silos.”