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Blog Posts from April 2015

Blog Posts from April 2015

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown ensured that California would remain at the forefront of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in response to the growing threat of climate change. In an executive order, Brown stated that the state must cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. This interim target will help meet the goal of cutting emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, as established by Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In a press conference, Brown expressed his determination for California to be leaders in regards to climate change:

“In North America, California is now setting the pace, and we're very serious about it,” Brown told a crowd of hundreds at a climate change conference in Los Angeles. “We're going to take whatever steps are needed to get the job done, because our future depends on it.”

In CPEHN’s report, The Landscape of Opportunity: Cultivating Health Equity in California, we discussed air quality and climate change as a health justice issue:

“Studies have shown that communities of color and low-income communities are more likely to live in areas with high exposure to pollutants, which can lead to higher levels of asthma and other respiratory conditions as well as cardiovascular events, low birth weight, and premature deaths.”

In the same report we discussed improving air quality as a vital strategy to address some of the key environmental determinants of health. We stressed that California should remain a leader in developing standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Update 7:55 pm

Unfortunately, SB 203 (Monning) did not receive enough votes to make it out of Senate Health Committee. Our allies, and the bill's sponsor, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, puts it best:

Update 6:23 pm

Senator Richard Pan expressed support for the bill saying "I do believe the science and the rationale is there." Senator Lois Wolk also expressed support for the bill.

Senator Monning offered a powerful closing argument before the committee voted.

CPEHN hosted its final Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in Post-ACA California convening series today in San Diego. Like our previous three events, this one focused on Health for All efforts to expand access to affordable coverage to everyone regardless of immigration status, strategies to integrate behavioral and physical health services, and ways to include equity considerations when evaluating and improving health care quality.

Marty Adelman from the Council of Community Clinics started things off with a presentation on current behavioral health integration efforts in San Diego. He stressed that integrating behavioral health and primary care services can improve both components by reducing stigma, closing the mortality gap, and limiting costs.

Our Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in Post-ACA California convening series continued today in Los Angeles, and we continued to hear more great discussion about behavioral health integration, Health for All efforts to expand health coverage regardless of immigration status, and ways to improve quality of care while considering equity measures.

The day began with a great presentation by Felicia Jones of Healthy African American Families and Dr. Michael Ong from UCLA about Community Partners in Care (CPIC). Jones and Ong described how CPIC was a partnership between community and academic partners to develop strategies to reduce the burden of depression in vulnerable communities, particularly South Los Angeles and Hollywood/Metro Los Angeles.

Our spring convening series, Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California, continued today in Fresno, as health advocates gathered to discuss the most pressing health needs for communities of color in the Central Valley. Like our Oakland convening on Tuesday, this event focused on three key areas: behavioral health integration, considering equity when improving the quality of care, and Health for All efforts to expand access to coverage for everyone regardless of immigration status.

Jennifer Torres from Clinica Sierra Vista started things off by discussing ongoing efforts to integrate behavioral health services with primary care services at community health clinics in Kern and Fresno Counties. She pointed to some initial challenges with assimilating behavioral health into the culture of community health clinics, but also noted that progress has been made.

Update 4:12

Updating the bills we've been talking about today: SB 388 (Mitchell), SB 546 (Leno), SB 291 (Lara), and SB 26 (Hernandez) have all passed out of the Senate Health Committee!

Update 3:40 pm

SB 388, authored by Holly Mitchell and sponsored by CPEHN, would require a health insurance plan’s summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to be translated into non-English languages consistent with California’s existing language access requirements for other vital documents and would require the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance to make available translated templates of the SBC on their websites.

Testimony from bill sponsors and supporters showed the importance of reducing language barriers in the health care system. By having access to translated SBCs, patients will have a better understanding of what benefits they receive through their health plans. The bill was heard without opposition.

You can visit our Policy Center for more information on SB 388.

Update 3:05 pm

SB 546, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would add transparency to large group health plans through a rate review process. The rate review would only kick in if the rate increases are higher than the average increases across all the plans being offered. CPEHN and other supporters of the bill point to skyrocketing health care costs in large group plans, particularly in union health plans, as a reason why rate review is necessary. The bill does not include rate regulation provisions, but the transparency that comes with rate review could lead to more public outcry about drastic rate increases.

Today in Oakland, health advocates from across the Bay Area gathered at CPEHN’s spring convening, Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in Post-ACA California, to discuss efforts to reduce health inequities in California. The event focused on three priority areas: efforts to expand access to health care to all Californians regardless of immigration status (Health for All), including equity in efforts to improve quality of care, and the integration of behavioral and primary health care services.

After an introductory presentation from CPEHN’s Cary Sanders on the current state of coverage, quality, and behavioral health integration, we shifted to local speakers. The first, Jazmin Segura from Educators for Fair Consideration, spoke about the importance of expanding health care to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. She noted that thanks to the recent executive order by President Barack Obama, many immigrants receiving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are now considered Permanent Residents Under Color of Law (PRUCOL) and are thus eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal if they meet the income requirements. However, years of distrust in the system has combined with pervasive misinformation to keep DACA-eligible immigrants from signing up for Medi-Cal, either because they don’t know they are eligible or because they are afraid of future repercussions.

Segura then discussed current efforts to extend health coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. She noted that Senator Ricardo Lara’s SB 4 Health for All Act is “the next great fight for immigrant rights organizations” and noted that for it to pass through the legislature, it will need help from advocates across the state.

Here at Aspiration, we recognize that leveraging technology and online tools is part of the day-to-day work of community organizers and frontline activists. People on the ground, not software developers, are in the best position to choose and use tools in social change efforts. By extension, they often know what works and what doesn't.

In the spirit of sharing this first-hand knowledge between nonprofit and grassroots staff, Aspiration is organizing a series of participatory workshops in Los Angeles next month. Under the banner of our California Training Roadshow, we have two collaborative events scheduled:

The Social Justice Technology Skillshare is a participant-driven gathering of up to 30 people on Wednesday, May 6th, at Mercado La Paloma. Then, a day of communications workshops will be co-organized with the Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA) on Friday, May 8th. The latter will be our first training conducted entirely in Spanish, designed to build technology capacity among migrant workers and activists.

We’re less than a week away from the start of our spring convening series. Starting next Tuesday in Oakland, we’ll be hosting four exciting events, Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California, to examine the future of health equity in California now that the state has fully implemented the coverage expansions of the Affordable Care Act.

Focus on Equity will take a look at some of the most pressing issues impacting the health of California’s communities of color. Participants will hear experts discuss Health for All efforts to expand health coverage to all Californians regardless of immigration status. There will also be opportunities to learn more about the integration of behavioral and physical health care and how we can incorporate equity when working to improve health care quality.

If you attend you’ll also find out how you can educate your community members and empower them to take action on these important issues. There’s still time to register, so sign up today!

Oakland – April 21, 2015
9:30 am to 2:00 pm
Nile Hall, Preservation Park
668 13th Street 
Co-hosts: ACCESS Women's Health Justice, Asian Health Services, California Immigrant Policy Center, Korean Community Center of the East Bay, Young Invincibles
Register for Oakland

Fresno – April 23, 2015
9:30 am to 2:00 pm
Fresno Downtown Business Hub
1444 Fulton Street
Co-hosts: California Immigrant Policy Center, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, Centro La Familia
Register for Fresno

Cristian Remollo’s path towards the school-to-prison pipeline began in elementary school with a suspension for a fight. Forty-nine suspensions and one expulsion later, at 14 years old, Cristian was sentenced to San Mateo County Juvenile Hall for second degree robbery. He would be released two months later, on probation and with an ankle bracelet. However, Cristian’s contact with the juvenile justice system didn’t end there. From ages 14 to 16, Cristian would serve in juvenile hall on a total of three separate occasions.

The reality is that Cristian’s experience of returning to juvenile hall is actually common in the United States. Cristian is one of 61,000 youth in the country who eat, sleep, and go to school in juvenile detention facilities. There are stark inequities in a young person’s quality of life once he or she enters the juvenile justice system. Once a young person comes into contact with the juvenile justice system, young people, age 16 and under, are 26% less likely to finish high school by the age of 19. Roughly 70% of the juvenile reentry population will return to juvenile hall by 19. These inequities particularly impact communities of color. Despite representing less than 30% of the nation’s population, Black and Latino youth compose nearly 60% of the juvenile population currently detained.

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