Last month, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) convened over 200 community and healthcare leaders at our biennial conference Voices for Change: Mobilizing for Health Equity. At a time when we have seen attack after attack against the health and well-being of our communities, we came together to discuss how we can leverage our collective power to organize, advocate, and vote for equity.
To kick off the day, our keynote speaker, Maria Hinojosa, shared her inspiring personal stories around immigration, mental health, and being the first Latina in numerous newsrooms. Maria reminded us that we each have our own unique stories of resilience and that our stories have power.
“As people of color tell their stories, we build power, and we can change the larger narrative around us.” – Maria Hinojosa, Emmy-winning journalist
With Maria’s stories of resilience in mind, we shifted to the morning plenary where leading advocates discussed strategies for mobilizing around an intersectional health equity agenda. From reproductive justice, to LGBTQ rights, immigration, and climate change—the barriers that communities color face are multifaceted and complex. Panelists discussed all that is at stake for communities in the upcoming November midterm election, in 2020 and beyond. Zahra Billoo of CAIR-SFBA implored participants to ask themselves three guiding questions as we consider the sustainability of our work:
“Who is not at the table and how can you invite them? How can we work smarter not harder because this is a marathon? [And] how can we can make civic engagement and activism part of our community’s lifestyle?” - Zahra Billoo of CAIR-SFBA
The brief used statewide health data to examine health care access, and quality of care by race/ethnicity, payer and region with regards to diabetes management, a chronic condition that disproportionately impacts communities of color in California. Wealthy regions exhibited the widest disparities—with advantages among non-Latino whites and people with commercial coverage, whereas disparities were narrowest in rural and agricultural regions, but health and quality of care were lower overall in those regions, according to the new data.
The brief also explored the unique role CPEHN and other statewide advocacy groups have traditionally played in the advancement of state initiatives to address health equity; including through requirements on health plans to reduce health disparities, as well as broader system wide requirements on public and private entities to invest carbon cap-and-trade revenues in disadvantaged communities.
The article was co-authored by Cary Sanders/Director Policy Analysis and Sarah de Guia/Executive Director of CPEHN in partnership with Ninez A. Ponce, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and principal investigator of the California Health Interview Survey and researchers Michelle Ko/assistant professor UC Davis and Riti Shimkhada/research scientist UCLA.
Despite rising uninsurance rates nationally, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that California continued to make historic gains in the effort to reduce the state’s uninsured rate. According to the data released, California’s uninsured rate fell to a new historic low of 7.2 percent in 2017, which represents a decline of 10 percentage points from the pre-Affordable Care Act rate of 17.2 percent. The report highlighted California and two other states, Louisiana and New York, as states that saw a reduction in their uninsured rate in 2017, while 34 other states had uninsured rates that remained unchanged.
An analysis of the numbers by CPEHN showed California’s communities of color also continued to see gains in rates of health care coverage with a decline in uninsurance rates for Latinos, Asians, and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders, despite federal efforts to sabotage the ACA. These positive numbers are due in part to the proactive steps California has taken despite federal interference, to keep insurance premiums low and make consumers aware of their eligibility for low or no-cost health care coverage in Medi-Cal and Covered California. Covered California in particular was recognized nationally for its targeted outreach and media activities to reach Latinos, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders and LGBTQ communities throughout the state.
Percentage of Uninsured Californians by Race/Ethnicity: 2016 and 2017