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Blog Posts from August 2015

Blog Posts from August 2015

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard.

Ever wonder what Californians are getting out of the more than $1 billion invested in energy-saving programs, buildings codes, and appliance standards every year? A new NRDC and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) report contains the answer - a lot!

In fact, as California's Golden Energy Efficiency Opportunity: Ramping Up Success to Save Billions and Meet Climate Goals confirms, these energy efficiency efforts have saved Californians nearly $90 billion on their energy bills since the 1970s and slashed electricity demand enough to avoid 30 large power plants (with 11 more expected to be avoided over the next decade). And that's all while helping to lower our annual household electricity bills ($240 less than the national average) and making our economy more productive.

Take a look at this infographic to get an even better idea of just how much energy efficiency does for the Golden State.

Benefits from CA's Investment in EE.png

Our team at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) is excited for the upcoming VOICES conference. It’s our seventh conference bringing together more than 200 community activists, service providers, researchers, and health advocates to mobilize and create meaningful policy impacts for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities.

On September 14-15 in Washington, D.C., the VOICES conference will focus on health equity in AA and NHPI communities and tackle one of the greatest questions we face – the future of health and the health care system in our country. While the passage of the Affordable Care Act and its expansions of health insurance coverage have made tremendous differences for families across the country, many in our communities still face barriers to enrollment and are not covered by a health insurance plan. With the next open enrollment period beginning this fall, we are taking the opportunity to focus on improvements in prevention and care delivery to ensure greater access for our communities.

The movement toward health equity for all communities faces many challenges, and we are working to fully equip our leaders with the tools they need to spread the message. During the conference, we will use community organization and coalition building practices and explore opportunities to influence change on state and national levels. Conference participants will share their experiences in working to raise AA and NHPI voices in health advocacy conversations, and in collaboration with other advocates, provide recommendations and narratives to Congressional leaders about the significance of health equity for all.

Ten years ago this weekend, the world watched as Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and laid bare the inequities that are deeply ingrained in American society. Perhaps no single event has ever highlighted the intersection between race, poverty, climate, and health as clearly as the devastation in New Orleans.

Katrina put a spotlight on an uncomfortable truth: that millions of people in this country live in abject poverty and that communities of color are far more likely to experience the consequences of the country’s entrenched inequality. In 2005, nearly 40 million Americans (roughly 1 in every 7) lived in poverty. A decade later, there has been hardly any change in the nation’s poverty rate. In Louisiana, 34% of Blacks live in poverty compared to 10% of Whites. High poverty rates have made housing less affordable, and as a result, low-income populations and communities of color often live in areas of concentrated poverty in substandard housing with the constant threat of eviction. Even though Katrina took place nearly 2,000 miles away from California, the underlying social factors that exacerbated the destruction experienced by low-income communities of color – particularly African Americans – are evident here and throughout the country. 

Welcome to This Week in Equity Engagement on Twitter (TWEET) for the week of August 24, 2015. We have a lot of great stuff from social media this week, so let’s get right to it:

The Health for All movement to expand coverage to California’s undocumented immigrants took another step forward as Senator Ricardo Lara’s SB 4 passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week and will now be heard on the Assembly floor.

Journalist Jorge Ramos, who confronted Donald Trump earlier this week, continues to inspire all of us who advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

In a new report commissioned by the state of Vermont, Prevention Institute (PI) deeply examines a transformational model of health that's gaining steam in the U.S. – one in which health care and community entities partner up and emphasize community prevention of illness and injury.

Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) are emerging as a promising framework. ACHs integrate medical care, mental and behavioral healthcare, and social services with actions to improve the community conditions that shape health in a geographical area. In its report, PI extensively studied the mechanics of the work being done on the ground that reflects ACH principles, both in Vermont and at sites across the country.

"We looked at how to marshal healthcare-community partnerships to support community prevention populations," says report co-author and PI Managing Director Leslie Mikkelsen. "We also looked at what states can do to support and enhance the efforts of their regions that are implementing ACH elements and how they can cultivate strong retention of community prevention in the process."

Over the past two years, California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) coverage expansions has resulted in the biggest increase in access to affordable health care in a generation. Today, thanks to a new Field Poll sponsored by the California Wellness Foundation, we know that a large majority of voters in the state see the ACA as a success. Further, there is significant support for expanding access to coverage to undocumented immigrants, who are currently left out of the ACA.

CPEHN Executive Director Sarah de Guia discussed the shifting attitudes on health coverage for undocumented immigrants with the San Francisco Chronicle this morning:

Health care advocates credited the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as contributing to the shift in sensibilities.

“Californians acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of services is working,” said Sarah de Guia... “People understand what it’s like to be uninsured (and then get coverage). Now there’s this growing movement of ‘We need to finish the job.’”

Earlier today, the California Wellness Foundation hosted a hearing in Sacramento to discuss the results of the survey. The event featured a presentation by Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo followed by a panel including de Guia, Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley, Covered California Director Peter Lee, and Juan Esparza Loera, editor of Vida en el Valle.

DiCamillo gave a detailed overview of the results of the poll, with accompanying charts. The panel after his presentation went into more detail about the findings. Some highlights included:

As we discussed earlier this month, the American Public Health Association (APHA) is currently in the middle of a four-part series of webinars, The Impact of Racism on the Health and Well-Being of the Nation. Today, APHA’s third webinar, Unequal Treatment: Disparities in Access, Quality and Care, covered a variety of topics, including inequities in access to care for low-income communities and communities of color, the role of implicit biases in health disparities, and the impact of historical trauma on health.

The event featured an impressive lineup of speakers, including Brian Smedley from the National Collaborative for Health Equity, Michelle van Ryn from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and Linda Rae Murray from the University of Illinois School of Public Health. The presentations showed that while we have come a long way in regards to expanding coverage, access issues prevent many in low-income areas and communities of color from getting the best possible care. Also, racism and other biases result in additional barriers to care for these populations.

At CPEHN, we see racism as one of the leading social determinants of health and in order to achieve health equity it will be necessary to eliminate the barriers racism poses as communities of color strive to live healthy lives. We appreciate APHA’s efforts to further this important discussion with events like today’s webinar.

Here are some highlights from the event, which was recorded and will be available to stream on APHA’s website.

Smedley pointed to the disparities that remain despite the coverage expansions of the Affordable Care Act, particularly in low-income communities.

In 2012, California took a significant step toward addressing the health needs of its diverse communities with the creation of the Office of Health Equity (OHE) within the California Department of Public Health. In the years since, OHE has taken a leading role in bringing attention to the health needs of the state’s communities of color and other underserved populations such as LGBTQ populations, while also looking at health through a gender lens.

One of OHE’s key initial tasks was to develop a report highlighting the specific health challenges faced by communities of color in California and offering a strategic vision for addressing inequities. Late last week, OHE released its much-anticipated report, Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, and it is full of information about California’s uniquely diverse population and their health needs.

The report goes into great detail about the benefits and challenges posed by California’s diversity and looks at the root causes of inequities across the state. OHE also makes a considerable effort to document the social determinants of health and how income, food security, education, housing, neighborhood planning, and the environment are all inextricably linked to the public’s health. The report also addresses gaps in access to health care among communities of color and low-income populations and the importance of cultural and linguistic competence in health care services.

Across California, there’s a great network of advocates and health professionals working to promote equity and improve the health of the state’s communities of color. This network has led to a vibrant online community filling social media with great resources on a daily basis. Here are some of the highlights as part of our inaugural This Week in Equity Engagement on Twitter (or TWEET for short…sorry!) feature on Voices for Health Equity:

The California Budget & Policy Center had an analysis on the California budget special sessions that resumed in full force this week after a month-long summer recess.

California Food Policy Advocates is conducting a survey to help guide their policy work. If you have a minute, fill it out and help out a great organization working to improve access to healthy foods.

This originally appeared in an email blast from Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP).

RAMP and the California School-Based Health Alliance are pleased to announce the development of a new tool — the Asthma Environmental Intervention Guide for School-Based Health Centers. The purpose of this guide is to support school-based health center (SBHC) staff in leading or supporting evidence-based strategies and promising practices to reduce exposure to environmental asthma triggers. Although there is a broad array of evidence-based interventions to address asthma triggers, many people with asthma continue to be exposed to the factors that make their asthma worse. SBHCs are uniquely positioned to address this gap in order to help children breathe easier. While many SBHCs across the country are already playing a key role in helping students manage their asthma by providing quality clinical care and education there is an opportunity for SBHCs to also be leaders in managing the environmental factors that make asthma worse. 

The guide describes the relationship between asthma and a number of environmental asthma triggers and shares scientific evidence that SBHC staff can cite when educating others on the need to address environmental asthma triggers. This is followed by five sections each tackling a strategy, or broad category of intervention, that SBHC staff could lead or support. They include: 

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