Intrepid Ascent Partner Spotlight: A California nonprofit leading the charge to elevate communities in need

Meet John Bodtker, CalAIM Director at the California Health Collaborative 

 For the California Health Collaborative (CHC), the mission is clear: to enhance the quality of life and health for Californians, particularly for underserved and underrepresented communities. And that’s what CHC has been doing since it was founded in 1982. The nonprofit organization that operates programs throughout the state has largely been powered by grants focused on community-facing programs such as tobacco cessation, STD prevention, senior services, youth development, and outreach to groups within communities such as migrant farm workers. According to John Bodtker, CalAIM Director at CHC, “Our whole mission has been trying to elevate the health of these communities.” Now, with CalAIM — California’s Medicaid transformation program — the organization is gearing up to help make the most of a massive growth opportunity to help their communities. 

Previously with the California Rural Indian Health Board, John came to CHC specifically because he wanted to work on CalAIM. “With CalAIM, if California can be successful in showing that these interventions make people’s lives more secure, you’re going to see that impact on their medical costs and health outcomes too,” explains John. “And that’s what [CalAIM] is trying to fix — some of the social things that are affecting people’s lives and that are contributing to these bad outcomes.”

CHC has already led more than 75 regional and statewide programs across California. These programs have led to changes in policies, systems, and environments; elevated community voices; addressed barriers to accessing health resources; and enhanced the well-being of youth and adults through services centered on healing and whole-person care. Even for this experienced grass roots organization, there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

“With CalAIM, there are compliance needs for care plans, contracts, finances, claims, and billing — all of that is totally new. And so the first thing we needed was to understand, ‘Okay, well where do we stand as an organization?’” explains John in regard to their initial work with Intrepid. “What does our HR look like? What do our finances look like? How do we manage our grants, and what technology is the organization currently using, and where should we go next?”

Intrepid led this assessment for CHC and helped them develop a plan to align their technology needs with how the organization was growing under CalAIM and what it needed to do that successfully. “They took the time to really interview staff and their messaging, and the way they worked with us was really great,” said John. “It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve worked with a lot of bad consultants, a lot of good consultants. These guys were awesome.”

“Intrepid has done an outstanding job in identifying key areas for improvement for data integration in our organization. They display an excellent ability to review and focus on specific areas of need and recommend quality solutions,” says Stephen Ramirez, CEO, California Health Collaborative. “CHC will continue to work with Intrepid on the implementation of their recommendations, and we are pleased to have them as our partner for implementation of data integration in CHC.”

The initial focus of the project transitioned from a specific CalAIM technology assessment to working with Intrepid on a broader redefinition of CHC’s corporate structure. John said, “You’re working on this one program, but you know there’s all these other programs, and we want to keep the whole organization solvent and clear. What can we do to benefit everyone and make things easier?”

Under CalAIM, CHC’s main focus is services for mothers and senior populations as well as the medically complex. “If a person is at risk of being admitted to a nursing home because they have a hard time caring for themselves, we come out and make $3,000 worth of grab bars and a safety shower and then get this person extra IHSS support to keep them at home. We just saved the state 20 grand a month. You can spend some of this money and actually keep people at home.”

With CalAIM also comes transition for community-based organizations like CHC. As director, John works almost exclusively on obtaining managed care contracts and grant funding as well as identifying key partners, such as technology vendors, to help them scale up internally. 

Intrepid, a consulting partner for community health, was the ideal partner to help them achieve this and ramp up their technology to meet their growing and changing needs as an organization under CalAIM.

For CalAIM, CHC continues doing the hard work of engaging communities and delivering services that meet their unique needs. “Working with licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) and then executive leadership, it’s determining ‘what’s the vision? What do we want to do? What do we want to deliver?’” explains John. “And then trying to find those pieces. So ‘where’s the money? What contracts do we need? What counties should we go in? What services should we offer and expand?’ And then we have a team within the care team building out all the assessments and the steps and knowing the resources in each community and just trying to scale this from a couple of small pilot programs to now we’re in 15 counties, we’ve got five managed care plans.”

For John and CHC, it’s all about engaging with a local lens to make sure you’re reaching communities appropriately. “If someone keeps going to the ER because of asthma — let me go take a look, give an asthma assessment, and make recommendations. Maybe you’ve got mold or pollen or pets or chemicals or things irritating it. So all kinds of things like that. It is a way to send or use these staff who are, again, it’s like that community level. Community health workers come from the community. They usually speak the language, they understand what’s going on.”

To learn about CHC’s impact on the community it serves, visit