We live in a society where your race, wealth, and zip code say a lot about your health prognosis. Even though we passed the groundbreaking Affordable Care Act in 2010 and California has expanded Medi-Cal in unprecedented ways, Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) in our state continue to experience unacceptable disparities in health access and outcomes.
For example, 50 percent of uninsured people in California are Latinx. Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer and four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. American Indians have the highest suicide rate in the country. Nationwide, nearly a third of the nurses who have died of coronavirus in 2020 were Filipino, even though they make up just 4 percent of the nursing population.
While each community of color faces unique health barriers and inequities, we have more in common than not. All of our communities experience racism, discrimination and bias. Historically, our communities were not invested in, we continue to lack representation in the halls of power, and our needs are rarely seen as policy and budget priorities. And when they are seen, they are seen as a token add-on, as something that can be easily cut from the public policy and budgets in case of a recession or another crisis.
As a multi-ethnic network representing organizations serving millions of Californians, we bring together and build power in our diverse communities of color. Together we are stronger, louder and more powerful. Together, we cannot be ignored. As a network, we are a collective voice for racial justice, health equity and health care system reform.
Only through the radical reimagining of our health care system and the explicit pursuit of anti-racist policy and systems changes can we achieve health equity. Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. Health inequity indicates differences in health outcomes that are systematic, avoidable, and unjust.
– Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director
We bring together and mobilize communities of color to advocate for public policies that advance health equity and improve health outcomes in our communities.
We envision a world in which all communities regardless of their income, sex, race, ethnicity, primary language, LGBTQ+ status, disability or immigration status, have the opportunity to live with optimal physical, behavioral, oral, and overall health and well-being, and to thrive. In this system, all patients are treated with the same level of dignity and respect, allowing everyone to achieve the best possible health outcomes.
We center racial justice, build courageous coalitions and boldly champion policies that will make the biggest difference in the health of communities of color.
We want every person calling California home to have access to quality, affordable and culturally competent health care. By “health” we mean optimal physical, oral and behavioral health. By “quality, affordable and culturally competent,” we mean that our health care system honors all of our lives equally.
We advocate for federal, state and local policies that advance health equity. We bring together the expertise, lived experience and concerns of California’s diverse communities and we develop and advocate for a common health care policy agenda. Though we’ve seen considerable policy wins since we were founded in 1992, we have a lot more work to do.
Our Policy Team advocates for legislative, budget and administrative policies that:
- Center equity in quality and payment
- Engage patients, families and caregivers
- Strengthen culturally and linguistically appropriate care
- Improve and integrate physical, behavioral and oral health care
- Hold health plans and systems accountable
- Improve social determinants of health
Coalition and movement building is “unromantic and tedious work,” said Audre Lorde in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. But it’s also deeply necessary work, without which sustainable social change has never happened.
We’re proud to say that we’ve been doing this essential work of connecting people, ideas and resources for nearly 30 years. Everything we do is done in collaboration with our nonprofit and grassroots partners. Our policy advocacy is truly community led: before we sponsor, draft or support any policy, we spend months outreaching to our communities, organizing events and working groups, and educating and engaging our network members in discussions and debates. Our Community Advocacy Team leads, coordinates and facilitates powerful networks like the Having Our Say coalition, where we work with over 40 grassroots partners to listen to our communities, facilitate hard conversations, identify priority issues and solutions, and then develop a comprehensive health policy agenda that serves all our communities and their needs.
Learn more about our networks and projects here.
More often than not, there’s a lack of disaggregated data when it comes to health outcomes in California, making it difficult to establish, assess and address the needs in our communities. We work to fix this.
Our policy and community advocacy work is data informed. Our research focuses on studying and understanding disparities in health access, utilization and outcomes by race, ethnicity, language, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and immigration status. We then use this research and data to educate, persuade and pressure our decision makers, policymakers and administrators on behalf of our communities. Our research is equally necessary to educate and move the general public to support our community-led prevention strategies, innovative programs and policy solutions. See our past publications and research on our CPEHN Publications page.
Storytelling is essential to our policy advocacy work. It helps us sustain attention, build trust and inspire action in and on behalf of our communities. We use our newsletters, action alerts, blog posts, op-eds, social media, reports and events as a platform to amplify the voices of our community partners and our community members. We demystify complex policy issues and administrative and budget policies so that our communities can better understand them and take empowered action. We reframe existing and hurtful narratives about our communities in order to change hearts, attitudes and policies. And we use storytelling to educate, persuade and pressure legislators to prioritize the needs of our diverse and marginalized communities.
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