CPEHN Releases First-Ever Analysis of California State Government’s Health and Racial Equity Efforts 

Author Details

Ronald Coleman Baeza

Managing Policy Director

Organization: California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Sacramento, CA (August 8, 2023) –   Today, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) released “Time for Change: A Snapshot of Health and Racial Equity Efforts in California State Government,” a first-of-its-kind analysis of how California’s government agencies are transforming to advance the twin goals of health and racial equity. This report is being released on the heels of the introduction of an historic US Senate resolution by California Senator Alex Padilla to declare racism to be a public health crisis and to urge decisive action to reduce and eliminate racial health disparities. 

“This is the moment for us to embrace the need for transformative change, and for state government to do business differently. We can be proud of the strides made in California while also reckoning with our history of racism and discrimination, which has embedded inequities over generations. We must come together to envision a brighter future, one which marginalized Californians have the power to define, and must urge our state government to lead in these efforts,” says Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Commissioned by the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), the report is informed by interviews with over a dozen top state government leaders, as well as a review of publicly available government documents. It identifies cross-cutting strategies guiding current efforts and provides recommendations to foster equitable health outcomes, robust public participation, and a just future for California’s communities of color.  

“A growing and diverse California requires the state’s health systems to work for everybody, particularly communities of color and those with low-incomes, who are often underserved and marginalized. I am grateful for our partnership with CPEHN in conducting the first-ever survey and documentation of California state health agencies’ efforts to embed equity in their work, and I am eager to see the new efforts it inspires,” says Dr. Sandra R. Hernandez, President and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation

Racial inequities in health outcomes are longstanding and deeply entrenched. COVID-19 exacerbated the impact of systemic racism on health, resulting in a widening of the racial disparity in life expectancy. While California had one of the most robust and equity-focused pandemic response efforts, this report demonstrates the importance of a strong continued focus on health and racial equity. The seven key recommendations include hiring government staff with lived experience of health inequities, building authentic community partnerships, and committing meaningful resources to address historic harms. 

The report also amplifies efforts of California’s Legislature to develop stronger governmental infrastructure for tackle the challenging task of undoing a legacy of systemic racism and discrimination.  

“As we expand health care access, we must pay close attention to structural barriers that prevent people of color from accessing quality health care. As a state, it is imperative that we focus on health equity to ensure that everyone can thrive. This report is a step in the right direction when it comes to identifying how the state can provide safe and inclusive care for its people. Thus, enabling Californians to live healthy and prosperous lives,” says Assemblymember Jim Wood. 

The full report can be accessed here. Please email info@cpehn.org for access to the Time for Change Webinar presentation and recording.


What Equity Leaders Are Saying: 

“African American and Black immigrant communities in California experience significant health inequities when it comes to the quality of care that we receive. An understanding of how the state can promote and operationalize health equity is vital for our well-being and longevity. Moreover, we must be intentional and strategic in terms of our ability to understand the challenges we face and advocate for greater health system investments in our communities,” says Rhonda Smith, Executive Director of the California Black Health Network

“This assessment of California’s health equity policy efforts is not only an important resource to help track progress that has been made, but it also reinforces the importance of the fundamentals – like the robust, disaggregated demographic data that Covered California has been committed to collecting and using since our inception, said Taylor Priestley, Health Equity Officer at Covered California. “It is also a reminder that making transformational change will require a true collective effort and active engagement between state organizations, policymakers and the communities that we serve.” 

“As it relates to the Health and Human Services Agency, this report provides a strong overview of the steps the State has taken to address equity within government policies and programs.  It also highlights gaps in the areas of community engagement, resource commitments, and integrated coordination necessary to do more meaningful work. NextGen Policy looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our state government to address these disparities through avenues like the Racial Equity Commission and other government efforts,” says Elena Santamaria, Partnerships Manager & Senior Policy Advisor of NextGen Policy