March 23, 2021

Renewed partnership supports athletes with special needs

Three-year agreement with Special Olympics Southern California ensures Kaiser Permanente’s continued high-quality health education and medical support.

Kaiser Permanente and Special Olympics Southern California have announced a renewed partnership benefiting athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Contacts: Terry Kanakri



PASADENA, Calif., — Kaiser Permanente and Special Olympics Southern California have announced a renewed 3-year partnership in which physicians and medical support staff will continue providing high-quality health education, medical support, consulting, and, when athletes return to competition, sideline care.

The Special Olympics movement serves a critically important role as it transforms communities by inspiring people throughout the world to open their minds, as well as accept and include people with intellectual disabilities.

Through its continued partnership with SOSC, Kaiser Permanente is engaging employees, physicians, members, and communities in a deeper understanding and respect for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Both organizations also share a vision to improve the health of communities across Southern California, where Kaiser Permanente serves 4.7 million members.

“People with intellectual disabilities are one of the largest and most medically underserved populations,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, regional president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Hawaii Health Plan and Hospitals. “This group has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and has faced many challenges that have upended their lives. As such, we want to ensure that they have access to the services, education, and resources needed to help them thrive during these trying times. We believe strongly in inclusiveness and want to shatter many of the disadvantages Special Olympics athletes face to help them achieve their dreams.”

As part of the extended agreement, Kaiser Permanente will work closely with SOSC to help pave the way for a safe return to in-person activities.

We believe strongly in inclusiveness and want to shatter many of the disadvantages Special Olympics athletes face to help them achieve their dreams.

Aaron Rubin, MD, will remain as SOSC’s chief medical officer. During the pandemic, he advised SOSC athletes on how to protect their health and educated their families on ways to stay safe. As part of the new 3-year agreement, Dr. Rubin will oversee approximately 40 Southern California Permanente Medical Group physicians and medical support staff at SOSC competitions, providing ongoing sideline medical care to the athletes.

“Our physicians look forward to safeguarding these awe-inspiring Special Olympics athletes with the highest standard of medical expertise and sideline care,” Dr. Rubin said. “We are committed to empowering these driven athletes to find new abilities, joy, and fulfillment, along with inspiring people throughout the world to accept and include those with intellectual disabilities. We believe very strongly that through diversity comes strength, and as physicians we want to help make that happen.”

Special Olympics Southern California President and CEO Calvin Lyons said that safeguarding the health and wellness of athletes with intellectual disabilities is one of SOSC’s most important goals, and that the continued partnership with Kaiser Permanente will help fulfill that important objective.

“Our partnership has helped us transform many lives for the better through health education, health promotion, and health services provided by some of the best medical professionals in America,” Lyons said. “We look forward to building on that success and so much more in the coming years, while also promoting our shared vision of diversity and helping to reduce stigma around intellectual disability.”

Ramin Davidoff, MD, medical director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, said this agreement is another example of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to health equity, diversity, and community involvement.  

“We look forward to a continued fruitful relationship in which our doctors can support a very important population segment in our communities, which deserves nothing but the best medical care we can provide,” he said. “We view our continued relationship with SOSC as another example of our commitment to creating healthier communities across our region.”

About Special Olympics Southern California

Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, leadership, and health programs. Founded in 1969 by Olympic decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson, Special Olympics Southern California provides free year-round sports training and competitions to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation develops improved physical fitness and motor skills and greater self-confidence. Special Olympics has become the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Special Olympics Southern California has earned a 4-star ranking from Charity Navigator for exceeding industry standards. This ranking is the highest Charity Navigator offers to an organization and is given because Special Olympics has demonstrated strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency. Learn how you can get involved at

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.