CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, opens the newsletter by discussing Health4All Kids implementation. Starting on May 16th, California will offer Medi-Cal coverage to all eligible children regardless of immigration status.
Our Ethnic Partner Spotlight features an article from the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) on two new briefs about obesity and other health conditions affecting the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community.
CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, opens the newsletter by discussing Covered California’s disparities reduction and quality improvement strategies, which show promise in reducing disparities for California’s communities of color.
Our Ethnic Partner Spotlight features an article from the California Black Health Network (CBHN) and their advocacy efforts to improve the health of people with Sickle Cell Disease.
The Governor’s budget includes a $16.2 billion plan for the state’s transportation needs, with $3.2 billion in proposed new revenue. Unfortunately, the Governor’s transportation plan is business as usual, at the expense of public health and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The $3.2 billion in proposed new funding replicates the Governor’s plan introduced in August last year during the transportation special session. The majority of those funds will go towards repaving roads and expanding trade corridors, doing little to expand active transportation and advance transportation mode shift. Details of the proposal include:
CPEHN applauds the Governor’s renewed commitment to expand health care to California’s undocumented children but urges greater investment in the health of communities of color broadly given the projected $3.6 billion surplus.
On Thursday, January 7th, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed FY 2016-17 state budget, which includes modest increases in Medi-Cal and other safety-net programs. We are elated to see that the Governor’s proposal maintains the state’s prior commitment to expand full-scope Medi-Cal to undocumented children starting on May 1, 2016. Additionally, we applaud the Governor’s tax revenue proposal to extend the Managed Care Tax (MCO), which is set to expire in 2016. The tax proposal, pending negotiations between the Governor and health plans, will provide $1.1 billion in state funding to help defray the cost of the In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) and other health care services. The 2016-17 budget also includes a small increase in SSI/SSP grants for seniors and persons with disabilities, the first increase since 2006.
With a large projected revenue surplus, however, the budget proposal misses important opportunities to invest in the health of California’s new majority, communities of color. The budget, for example, does not seek to restore dental benefits or concretely address the lack of comprehensive health care coverage for undocumented adults. Further, the $3.2 billion in additional revenues for transportation will primarily fund repaving roads and expanding trade corridors rather than expanding funding for active transportation to positively impact climate change and public health. We also urge the elimination of the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) in the CalWORKs program, which unfairly denies financial support to babies born while their families are receiving grants.
This is an excerpt from the new publication, Advancing Health Equity: Case Studies of Health Equity Practice in Four Award-Winning California Health Departments, that originally appeared on the Berkeley Media Studies Group's website.
Call any local health department in the United States and, chances are, you won't have much trouble finding information on the health problems its surrounding communities face. You might learn that a county's populations of color have higher rates of asthma than white community members, or that its low-income adults are more likely to experience a heart attack. Or you might discover that the region experiences excellent health overall but still struggles with wide differences in life expectancy from one neighborhood to the next.
That's because health departments are increasingly focused on understanding health inequities — unjust differences in health outcomes and longevity that can't be explained by genetics or individual behavior — and how to prevent them. Going beyond public health's traditional purview of infectious disease control and clinical services, many health departments are now exploring how social, economic, and political inequalities, all of which are rooted in power differences, are causing some groups to live sicker and die younger than others. These inequalities show up in indicators like education and income levels, rates of violence, and policies and practices that create advantages for some populations and disadvantages for others, based, for example, on race, gender, or sexuality.
The first week back after summer break has been a busy one in Sacramento, and today might’ve been the busiest day yet. Earlier this summer, Governor Jerry Brown signed a budget deal that stipulated two special legislative sessions, one on health care (particularly Medi-Cal) and developmental services, and the other focused on transportation funding. Today, we saw several hearings as part of both of these special sessions.
Senate Special Session on Transportation
This morning’s Senate special session on transportation focused on a number of strategies to raise revenues for transportation and infrastructure projects. The highlight of the hearing was Senator Jim Beall’s comprehensive transportation funding bill SBx1 1, which includes an increase in the state’s gas tax. Citing a lack of increase over the past two decades, Senator Beall noted that the increases included in his bill would adjust the tax to where it should be had it been increased as a result of inflation since the 1990s. There was testimony from a wide array of advocates in support of the proposal. However, some environmental and equitable transportation advocates expressed a desire for the bill to more explicitly gauge environmental impact and promote active transportation projects. The bill passed out of the committee on a partisan vote. Streetsblog California recently posted an excellent summary of the issues at stake with SBx1 1 and the special session on transportation.
Assembly Informational Hearing on Public Health and Developmental Services
Earlier this month, the California Department of Health Care Services released a review of the rates paid out to dentists offering services through the Denti-Cal program. The report found that enrollment in the program has risen dramatically in the past five years, but low provider reimbursement rates have left the newly enrolled with limited options for oral health care.
Between 2009 and 2014, the number of children enrolled in Denti-Cal increased by 40%. (Note: Adult full-scope Denti-Cal services were cut in 2009.) Most of this increase occurred between 2011 and 2013 when the Healthy Families program transitioned into Medi-Cal. However, as enrollment skyrocketed, the number of Denti-Cal providers dropped by 14%.
The reason for the decreasing provider pool is clear: California’s reimbursement rates are some of the lowest in the country. California’s average reimbursement rates come in at less than one-third (28.3%) of the region’s commercial insurance rates. Compared to other states, California’s average rates are less than two-thirds of Texas’s (65.5%) and three-quarters of New York’s (75.4%).
A recent KPBS story discussed what California needs to do to increase provider participation:
Jenny Kattlove, programs director of The Children's Partnership, a nonprofit advocacy group, said dentists who treat kids with Denti-Cal coverage take a financial hit.
A new issue of our Health Equity Forum newsletter was released today and it starts off July with a lot of great articles and resources highlighting efforts to improve health and equity in California.
CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, opens the newsletter with an article about the emotional last few weeks for social justice advocates. She celebrates last week’s Supreme Court decisions regarding the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage. However, she also takes time to remember the lives lost in the tragic hate crime in Charleston.
Our Ethnic Partner Spotlight features an article from Xavier Morales, Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. He focuses on the importance of addressing the diabetes health crisis in communities of color and what policy steps can be taken.
The American Lung Association in California has an interesting piece on their terrific new report, State of the Air 2015. The report looks at how California’s cities rank nationally in terms of air quality and what trends have become evident over the last decade. And the RYSE Center in Richmond has a compelling story on the challenges facing those returning from the juvenile justice system.
Today, California took an important step towards making affordable health care more accessible. The budget deal announced this afternoon includes a $40 million investment in Medi-Cal to enable all low-income children, regardless of immigration status, to access comprehensive health coverage. This budget shows that the Governor and legislature understand that immigrants are vital members of our state and that all children have a right to be healthy. The momentum is on our side, and today’s deal motivates us to continue supporting proposals, including SB 4 (Lara) the Health for All Act, to ensure that Californians of all ages, regardless of immigration status, have access to affordable health care through Medi-Cal and Covered California.
Additionally, we are looking forward to the special session on the Medi-Cal program, which now provides health coverage to nearly 12 million recipients, a majority of whom are from communities of color. Although more Californians are covered under Medi-Cal than ever before, many patients are struggling to find providers and specialists in their area. Having coverage means very little if there are no available providers and restoring reimbursement rates could help increase access to vital health care services for our communities throughout the state.
The special session on transportation and infrastructure is also a critically important opportunity for California to identify how to invest in more integrated strategies to promote clean, active transportation.
With just two weeks remaining until the Legislature’s June 15 deadline for passing a budget bill, state policymakers are at odds over whether — and by how much — California should boost funding for an array of health and human services in 2015-16, the fiscal year that begins this coming July 1.
Relying on projections from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, lawmakers assume that the state will receive about $3 billion more in revenues in 2015-16 than Governor Brown estimates. In separate budget plans adopted last month, the Assembly and Senate each committed to using a large share of these additional dollars to strengthen services and supports that are largely targeted to individuals and families with low incomes. In some cases, the two houses adopted a unified position that conflicts with the Governor’s approach. In other cases, the Assembly and Senate are divided. These differences will be aired and ironed out through the two-house budget conference committee process that gets under way today.