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Blog Posts from March 2015

Blog Posts from March 2015

Welcome to Tuesday Tidbits! If you would like your resource/event to be highlighted, please let me know at ddexter@cpehn.org. Thanks!

Today is Cesar Chavez Day, a celebration of a man who helped organize California’s farmworkers, a largely immigrant population, in a movement to achieve basic rights. Four decades later, that work continues, as immigrants and advocates across California, and the country, work to secure the right to health care.

Last November, we witnessed a victory for the immigrant rights movement when President Barack Obama issued executive actions expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and creating a new program, Deferred Action for Parents U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). These actions allowed millions of undocumented immigrants across the country to stay without fear of deportation. It also opened the door to public health care programs for millions.

In a new report, Health Insurance and Demographics of California Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education found that as many as 500,000 immigrants living in California would become eligible for Medi-Cal if they receive temporary protection from deportation and permission to work as a result of President Obama’s executive actions. While this population is not eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act, California state policy makes them eligible for Medi-Cal if they are in a family making under a certain income threshold.

Over 3.5 million Californians have enrolled in new coverage options since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yet persistent health disparities remain among communities of color, immigrants, and Limited English Proficient populations. Join CPEHN and our partners for Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California, as we highlight opportunities to advance equity in 2015 and beyond. Topics will include:

  • Health for All: There will be updates on the progress of SB 4 (Lara), the Health for All Act, and we will feature why it’s necessary to ensure that all Californians can access health coverage, regardless of immigration status. There will also be information on how you can take action and have your voice be heard in support of SB 4 and other efforts to improve access to health coverage for immigrants across the state.
  • Integration of behavioral health in primary care: We will hear about why treating behavioral health and physical health in an integrated manner will help improve care in both fields.
  • The importance of equity in measuring the quality of health care: While the health care system approach to quality is focused on the “triple aim” of population health, patient experience, and costs, we will show why it’s necessary to include a fourth aim: equity. 

Our convenings are interactive events that allow participants to participate in important health policy discussions. We’ll feature important policy proposals and how our communities can mobilize in support of them. We value the opportunity to travel throughout the state and hear different perspectives on all the critical health issues impacting California’s communities of color. It’d be great if you can join us and share your thoughts!

Welcome to Friday Facts! Each week we'll be taking a look at a specific chart from the Data & Resources section of our website. This week we're focusing on access to parks in Fresno County.

One of the great things about California is that throughout the year, the weather is conducive to spending time outside. The abundance of parks, beaches, coastlines, and open spaces in the state allows many of its 37 million residents to be outside and be physically active. However, not everyone in the state has equal access to these open spaces for physical activity.

While often we look at disparities between race and ethnic groups, today’s Friday Facts looks more at disparities by region. In today’s table, you can see that just over half of the people in Fresno County live within walking distance (a half mile) of a park or other open space. For comparison, roughly 70% of Los Angeles County residents can easily walk to a park. In Alameda County, that number increases to over 90%.

Obviously population density in Los Angeles and the Bay Area has a lot to do with those higher rates, but the need for more accessible open spaces in the Central Valley is noteworthy. We discussed the importance of parks in our Landscape of Opportunity report:

This article originally appeared in our Health Equity Forum email newsletter. It is being reposted here to coincide with today's opening of the Active Transportation Program's second grant cycle.

The Active Transportation Program (ATP) is a statewide competitive grant program that promotes bicycling and walking conditions with infrastructure improvements and encouragement programs. The ATP prioritizes projects that target safety for children traveling to school (Safe Routes to School grants) and improve streets and sidewalks for residents of disadvantaged communities as defined on page 8 of the ATP guidelines. Examples of these projects include fixing sidewalks, adding raised crosswalks, installing flashing signage at intersections, and creating bike lanes or paths. In 2015, the California Transportation Commission will approve $360 million in grants to communities across the state. The call for projects will be released on March 26 and the deadline to apply for funding is June 1, 2015.

On Wednesday March 11th, the Senate and Assembly Health Committees held a Joint Hearing on Health Disparities in California. Co-chaired by Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), the hearing featured panel presentations by advocates and researchers discussing the status of California’s communities of color and recommendations for addressing persistent health disparities. In addition, staff from the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Office of Health Equity, Covered California, Safety Net Institute, and Partnership Health Plan discussed initiatives to improve data collection and analysis to better align health care services to address health disparities.  

Defining Disparities in California

CPEHN’s Executive Director Sarah de Guia framed the discussion by emphasizing the need to incorporate an equity lens into our post-ACA health care delivery system. She noted that the key to reducing health disparities is to ensure standardized data collection and analysis of demographic data for disparities reduction initiatives and incorporating primary prevention into our delivery system to address the root causes of disparities. 

We need your support to ensure consumers are informed of their right to language assistance when accessing hospital services. Please send in your letter of support for AB 389 (Chau). Make your voice heard and urge the Assembly Committee on Health to advance this bill forward. Letters of support must be received by Wednesday, April 1st, so download and send in your letter TODAY.

For millions of Californians, adequate language assistance is essential to accessing basic health care services. More than 40% of Californians speak a language other than English at home and one in five Californians are Limited English Proficient (LEP), meaning they speak English less than very well. Prior to full implementation, projections found that nearly 40% of those newly eligible for health care subsidies in Covered California would be LEP. Failure to provide language access can lead to serious consequences, such as higher rates of hospitalizations, drug complications, and not returning for follow-ups after an emergency room visit.

AB 389 requires hospitals to post on their website their policy for providing language assistance to LEP patients and requires two state agencies, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and the California Department of Public Health, to post hospital language assistance policies on their website. By law, hospitals are required to develop and submit to the state their policy for ensuring patients with language barriers receive appropriate language assistance. This bill improves access to this information and ensures consumers are informed about their right to language assistance.

The hearing is scheduled for:

Welcome to Tuesday Tidbits! If you would like your resource/event to be highlighted, please let me know at ddexter@cpehn.org. Thanks!

While we were celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act yesterday, there was some more exciting news coming out of Washington. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) revealed four funding opportunity announcements for initiatives that will help improve health in communities of color and reduce health disparities across the country.

Let’s take a look at these four opportunities:

The latest edition of our Health Equity Forum newsletter came out today to coincide with the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Our celebration of the ACA begins with an article from CPEHN Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, detailing the impact the law has had on California’s communities of color. She also looks at what needs to be done going forward to ensure that the reforms of the ACA are just the starting point in the movement to achieve health equity.

Our four ethnic partner organizations – the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the California Black Health Network, the California Rural Indian Health Board, and the Latino Coalition for a Health California – also share their perspectives on the ACA’s anniversary.

Our Community Spotlight looks at Greenlining Institute’s UpliftCA environmental health efforts. And our Technical Assistance Spotlight features an article from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership on the upcoming second round of funding in the state’s Active Transportation Program.

Welcome to Friday Facts! Each week we'll be taking a look at a specific chart from the Data & Resources section of our website. This week we're focusing on food security in Alameda County.

We’ve talked before about how the economic prosperity of the Bay Area has not trickled down to all populations in the region, but in today’s Friday Facts we’ll see some striking disparities in the East Bay.

Food security, simply put, is the ability to afford enough food on a consistent basis. In today’s Friday Facts chart, we can see the rates of food insecurity, by race and ethnicity, among people in Alameda County living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Among this population, African Americans (57.4%) are more than twice as likely as Whites (26.9%) to be unable to afford food on a consistent basis, and Latinos (50.2%) are nearly twice as likely. These families often have to make the difficult choice between food and other basic needs.

In our brief, The Inextricable Connection between Food Insecurity and Diabetes, we examined the health impacts of food insecurity. We found that adults living with the most severe levels of food insecurity have more than twice the risk of developing diabetes as adults who are not food insecure.

While it might seem a paradox that food insecurity would lead to the consumption of more unhealthy foods, we found that that is often the case for a number of reasons, including:

This post originally appeared on ClimatePlan's blog. CPEHN is currently one of ClimatePlan's partner organizations.

California has big goals to fight climate change. But the current trend is that more Californians are driving longer distances. That’s bad for the climate and for all of us. The state has got to invest in more and better alternatives to driving, modernizing our transportation system to reflect our societal and economic goals.

Next stop: Caltrans

Caltrans — whose name many people associate only with highways — is starting to recognize the need for change. The agency is on the road to recovery, but it needs your help to get there.

Caltrans updated its mission and its goals. Now, Caltrans has released a draft of the California Transportation Plan 2040, a plan to meet the state’s future mobility needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A good start; your input needed

The agency has asked for public input, and is holding public workshops around the state (see list below). Our initial recommendations are below.

The new draft plan does improve on the 2007 plan, incorporating state policies to reduce climate change and create more sustainable communities (AB 32, SB 375, SB 391, and Executive Orders on climate change). The draft plan also declares the intention to “avoid funding projects that add road capacity and increased maintenance costs.” This focus on sustainability, climate, and economy is an encouraging start.

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