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 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.”