For the past several years, Greenlining has led a statewide coalition to advocate for not-for-profit hospitals to increase investments that improve the holistic health and well-being of communities of color and low-income communities. Each year, not-for-profit hospitals receive billions of dollars in tax exemptions and subsidies – totaling nearly $3.3 billion amongst not-for-profit hospital systems in California in 2010. In exchange, these hospitals are required to provide vital investments that address the health needs of the communities they serve, with an emphasis on building community health and disease prevention. These investments are known as community benefits.
Communities of color and low-income communities, California’s most vulnerable populations, have the most to gain from community benefits when these investments target the root causes of poor health – poverty, lack of access to healthy foods, and poor air and water quality, to name a few.
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.