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Carel Mulder; Helped Reinvent Health Care

August 30, 1997| From Times staff and wire reports

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Carel E.H. Mulder, the state official credited with reinventing health care in California and influencing that field throughout the country, has died at age 83.

Mulder, chief of the Office of Health Care Services under then Gov. Ronald Reagan, died Monday of cancer in Santa Rosa.

As one of the chief engineers of the state's innovative Medi-Cal system in the 1960s, Mulder inspired President Lyndon Johnson's administration to launch federally subsidized health care in the form of Medicaid.

A lifetime proponent of socialized medicine, Mulder served as chief of medical services for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare as well as in his state position.

"If I had my druthers--and it's not going to happen in this state or this country--I'm really for socialized medicine because I feel that health care should be on a par with protection of property and persons, like a fire department or police department," Mulder once told the creators of a UC Berkeley oral history project chronicling the lives of people who had a significant impact on the state.

Born in Amsterdam in 1914, Carel Emil Henri Mulder made his way to California during the Great Depression and ended up working 20 years in the California Department of Social Welfare, mostly in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

From 1957 to 1965, he served as California's chief of medical care in the Department of Health Services. From 1965 to 1967, he worked in the Health, Education and Welfare Department in Washington, D.C. And from 1967 to 1970, he returned to California, where he was director of the Department of Health Services under Reagan.

After retiring from public service in 1970, Mulder worked as a consultant for Electronic Data Systems, Ross Perot's company, to help fashion a better reimbursement system for Medi-Cal and Medicare payments.

He briefly faced state Assembly criticism of a conflict of interest for accepting the job while his department was working with Electronic Data.

But Mulder told The Times that he had carefully delegated his authority on that matter to an assistant because he knew he would be working for the company.

He is survived by five children, Carole Van Aelstyn of Santa Rosa, Lucinda Glicksman of New York, Christine Dauer and Marie Mulder of Atlanta, Jonathon Mulder of Chico, Calif., 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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