OAKLAND, Calif. – Today, President Barack Obama made history by signing landmark health reform legislation. The bill expands health coverage to the majority of California ’s 8 million uninsured, including communities of color who comprise two-thirds of the uninsured in our state.
“We applaud the President and members of Congress for making health care reform a reality,” said Ellen Wu, Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). “California , and communities of color, are the biggest winners of this reform, as 2.78 million people of color will now be able to get health insurance.”
“81% percent of African Americans who are currently uninsured will have an opportunity to get coverage through Medicaid expansions or subsidies,” cited Calvin Freeman, Executive Director of the California Black Health Network. “In addition, 60% of Latinos and Asians and Pacific Islanders who are uninsured will also get coverage,” according to an analysis by CPEHN using data from the UCLA California Health Interview Survey.
The bill increases access to health coverage by expanding public programs and providing federal subsidies to families so they can afford to buy individual health insurance in a national exchange if employer sponsored coverage is not available. The bill also provides important funds for prevention including community transformation grants beginning in 2010, a provision which is critical to addressing the health of communities of color. The grants will allow communities in underserved areas to apply for funding to promote better health through increased access to school playgrounds, safe places to engage in physical activity, as well as better access to nutritious foods.
The bill also permanently reauthorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act which provides authority for the provision of health care to more than 1.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. “Passage of this bill is a momentous occasion,” said James Allen Crouch, Executive Director of the California Rural Indian Health Board. Crouch, along with other advocates, has been working for over a decade for the reauthorization of IHCIA. “As a result of today’s actions, we will be able to modernize Indian health services, such as by allowing home health care services to be covered.”
CPEHN was founded in 1992 in response to the national health care reform debate. After eighteen years, we are excited to see our vision become a reality.