Over 100 advocates from across the state gathered at the Sierra Health Foundation in Sacramento earlier today for CPEHN’s sixth Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California convening. The event, co-hosted by OnTrack Program Resources, highlighted a number of topics that impact health in California’s communities of color, including health care quality, behavioral health integration, and access to health care for the remaining uninsured, particularly undocumented immigrants.
After the popularity of our events in Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside, we were invited by OnTrack to continue the discussion in the state capital. The event began with a presentation by CPEHN Executive Director Sarah de Guia that touched on each of the event’s topics.
She focused on how communities of color, who represent a majority of the state’s population, have the most to gain from successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She also pointed to the increased enrollment of Latinos and African Americans during Covered California’s second open enrollment period as a sign that the law’s programs are starting to have their intended impact.
Yesterday in Sacramento, Health Affairs (a leading journal of health policy and research), the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the California HealthCare Foundation hosted an event,The California Medi-Cal Waiver: Perspectives on Promoting Health System Improvement in California. The event highlighted the opportunities presented by the renewal of California’s 1115 Medi-Cal waiver to transform California's health care system so that it is better able to meet the needs of its new enrollees.
Earlier this year, CPEHN’s Sarah de Guia discussed how the waiver offers a great opportunity to promote health equity for Medi-Cal enrollees, a majority from communities of color:
The waiver gives states like California additional flexibility to design and improve their Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With the waiver, states can expand eligibility, provide additional services not typically covered, and use innovative service delivery systems that improve care, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, otherwise referred to as the “Triple Aim.”
What’s missing from these conversations is a focus on a fourth aim, promoting health equity… Through our participation in the 1115 waiver renewal process, CPEHN is working to bring awareness to the historic inequities in health outcomes that our communities experience, and the need for innovative policy proposals to help reform traditional health care coverage into systems that can provide meaningful access to services for our communities.
Yesterday’s event also included discussion about health equity and how the health care system can better serve California’s diverse communities of color. Here are some highlights:
Our spring convening series, Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California, continued today in Fresno, as health advocates gathered to discuss the most pressing health needs for communities of color in the Central Valley. Like our Oakland convening on Tuesday, this event focused on three key areas: behavioral health integration, considering equity when improving the quality of care, and Health for All efforts to expand access to coverage for everyone regardless of immigration status.
Jennifer Torres from Clinica Sierra Vista started things off by discussing ongoing efforts to integrate behavioral health services with primary care services at community health clinics in Kern and Fresno Counties. She pointed to some initial challenges with assimilating behavioral health into the culture of community health clinics, but also noted that progress has been made.