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Voices for Health Equity

Voices for Health Equity

The failure of Trumpcare for the second time in a row, shows the GOP’s health care overhaul is deeply flawed and cannot be fixed. The Senate GOP plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), would have caused 4 million Californians, a majority from communities of color to lose their health care coverage. Additionally, the bill would have destabilized the insurance market and cost the state thousands of good paying jobs.

Despite this, California’s Republican Congressional delegation voted for an earlier version of this mean-spirited bill drafted in a closed door, partisan process with no hearings and virtually no input from the people most affected. 

Unfortunately President Trump and Senate leader Mitch McConnell are pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act now and replace it later resulting in as many as 32 million Americans losing coverage. This plan too would be devastating for California and create havoc for the whole health care system.

Rather than repeating the same failed, closed door, partisan process, we call on California Republican Congressional representatives to set Medicaid aside, cease efforts to repeal and replace the ACA and work with Democratic leaders to identify a plan that actually improves the current health care system by reducing costs, ensuring long-term stability to the insurance market and creating greater access to quality care for all Californians including immigrant communities.

It’s time to make the Affordable Care Act work for everyone – with better care, for more people, at a lower price.

What happened?

The latest issue of our Health Equity Forum newsletter came out today and it includes several great articles and dozens of resources!

CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, opens the newsletter affirms CPEHN's commitment to defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and announces CPEHN's role in convening a California Oral Health Network. 

Our newsletter features an article from the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) that spotlights their work on oral health. We also highlight our partners, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles who are also working hard to ensure equity in oral health. We have also included an article summarizing CPEHN's work in oral health and how our community campaign to restore dental benefits was a success. Finally we have a federal and state legislative updates. 

This blog is part of a series that will highlight how structural racism in the health care system negatively affects the health of individuals of color. Community Catalyst is committed to exposing and dismantling policies, practices and attitudes that routinely produce cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color in the health system.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) would result in 22 million people losing their health care coverage over the next decade, cause long-term damage to the Medicaid program and raise health care costs to extremely unaffordable levels for consumers. Millions of low-income people of color, especially those with chronic health conditions, would be among the hardest hit. A recent analysis conducted by the Urban Institute estimates that by 2022 roughly 21 percent of those who would become uninsured because of BCRA are Latinos, and 12 percent are Black. This bill would reverse racial health equity gains made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and strike a blow against signature victories for racial equality in America.

CPEHN is proud to release our latest report, “Mind, Body, Spirit: Advancing Mental Health and Substance Use Equity.” This report builds upon the California Reducing Disparities Project draft Strategic Plan, which was produced in 2015 to highlight mental health disparities and community-driven policy solutions.

Mental health and well-being is a core component of overall health, but communities of color in California face myriad barriers to optimal mental health and necessary care. Decades of community disinvestment, over-policing, and poverty had produced toxic stress that pervade communities of color and immigrant communities. Coupled with a mental health care system that is often difficult to navigate, communities of color lack access to the right care at the right time.

Yesterday, the University of California at Berkeley released a study showing that 82% of Medi-Cal enrollees believe is very important for health plans to provide coverage for mental health and substance use care, but that only 47% believe their plan does provide this coverage. California has made significant strides in adding mental health benefits to the Medi-Cal program and ensuring the more Californians have coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Now, we must defend these important advances and improve access.

Download our report here.

CPEHN is humbled and excited to lead and convene the California Oral Health Network! We look forward to working with many of our partners to improve oral health equity in California. See below for the DentaQuest Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation statement announcing the new statewide network to advance oral health policy. 

Assembly Bill 391 (Chiu), successfully passed out of the Assembly Health committee with bipartisan support (11-0). The bill is co-sponsored by CPEHN and the Regional Asthma Management & Prevention and Children Now, and it will allow California to better deliver care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries with asthma by adopting policies to expand access to cost-effective preventative care and provide healthcare workforce opportunities for communities of color.

Asthma is a significant public health problem and driver of health care costs. Over 5 million Californians have been diagnosed with asthma[i] -- about 1 in 7 state residents. Asthma is of particular concern for low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal. Low-income populations, like the nearly two million Medi-Cal beneficiaries who have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives,[ii] have higher asthma severity, poorer asthma control, and higher rates of asthma emergency department visits and hospitalizations. [iii] In 2010, Medi-Cal beneficiaries represented 50% of asthma hospitalizations and 42% of asthma emergency department visits, even though they represented only 30% of Californians. [iv]

The latest issue of our Health Equity Forum newsletter came out today and it includes several great articles and dozens of resources!

CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, opens the newsletter affirms CPEHN's commitment to defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and lifting up the voices of people of color! 

The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network continues to move the needle on health justice by integrating health equity into statewide policies including mental health. Assembly Bill 470 (Arambula), sponsored by CPEHN, passed out of the Assembly Health committee with bipartisan support. The bill aims to reduce mental health disparities by establishing robust tracking and evaluation measures to ensure Medi-Cal beneficiaries are receiving timely access to quality mental health services that meet their cultural and language needs as required by law.

During the committee hearing Assemblyman Arambula shared a striking statistic: Approximately 92% of adults in California who do not speak English as their primary language report unmet needs for mental health services, with about 70% receiving no treatment at all.

Finding a provider who will treat them can be extremely challenging for smaller, rural communities for which English is not their native language. As Genevieve Flores-Haro, Associate Director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project indicated that though they have a good partnership with their county mental health department, and "regularly refer community members to county mental health services," "families claim there is a time gap from the moment they are referred, deemed eligible (3 weeks), and until they ultimately receive service (3 months). Timely access is crucial for seasonal farmworkers who are constantly migrating and are unable to attain mental health care due to the lengthy process.”

The failure of the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) is a victory we can all be proud of.  Our calls, letters, town halls and vigils made a difference! The Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains the law of the land, and the GOP’s morally bankrupt AHCA went down in flames. The Republicans could not build a consensus to pass a plan that would cause higher premiums and deductibles, 24 million people losing coverage, the dismantling of Medicaid, and billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. Millions of us-- from all walks of life, have spoken out against this plan and CPEHN vows to continue to make our voices heard.

There are already other wins. Two states—North Carolina and Kansas will be expanding Medicaid to cover more people now that ACA will not be repealed.

But as Democratic Chair Perez said on NPR, “No one is spiking the football, yet.”  We know the attacks from the Administration are not over, with HHS Director Tom Price continuing to undermine the ACA administratively and Republicans still talking about defunding Planned Parenthood and Medicaid “reform.” The President also tweeted Saturday that he was ready to let the ACA explode.

URGENT ACTIONS NEEDED EVERY DAY THIS WEEK

Your actions are making a difference! Last week the GOP went from insisting Republicans in the House would fall in line behind the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to admitting the bill will need to change to pass. Despite talk of making small tweaks to the bill, (which would include work requirements for Medicaid recipients) and the president saying he is 100% behind it, passage is still in doubt.

"My whip count indicates that there are 40 no's," enough to defeat the bill, said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), who leads the hardline House Freedom Caucus. Across the Capitol, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada), facing re-election next year, became the fourth Republican senator to announce his opposition. That left Senate GOP leaders at least two votes shy of what they need, even though they control the chamber 52-48.

Why the sudden case of nerves by GOP leaders after seven years of promising to repeal the ACA?

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