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Voices for Health Equity

Voices for Health Equity

Health Equity Forum

The latest edition of our Health Equity Forum newsletter hit the virtual shelves today, and it features a lot of information on the most pressing health issues impacting California’s communities of color in 2015.

To start it off, our Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, summarizes the ongoing efforts to renew California’s 1115 Medi-Cal waiver, which has been instrumental in expanding the program in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. Renewing the waiver will help the state focus not just on expanding access to coverage, but implementing strategies to reduce health disparities as well.

We also have an article from B. Darcel Lee, President and CEO of the California Black Health Network (CBHN), one of CPEHN’s founding ethnic partner organizations. She gives a recap of CBHN’s Heroes in Health Gala.

This post originally appeared on MomsRising.org.

For many of us committed to social justice and the health and wellbeing of our communities, this year’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is particularly powerful.

Our society once again finds itself at the precipice of race relations. Social justice advocates and organizers, furious with the recent high profile killings of Black youth, mostly young men, have taken up the banner that Dr. King carried so many years ago, and are demanding that the legal and justice systems recognize that Black lives matter.

This demand that Black (and by extension Brown) lives matter is a call to action. It is a call for us to reflect on the work of Dr. King and to take to heart his own call to action that “the time is always right to do what is right.” This call to action goes well beyond the legal and justice systems. It is a call to action for every institution, every system, and every individual in our society.

One clear area of society where Dr. King’s message and the demand that Black and Brown lives matter needs to permeate is our health care system. It is time for our health care providers to do what is right and make Black and Brown lives, particularly the lives of young Black and Brown men, a priority.

Time for Change Foundation

Welcome to Tuesday Tidbits! This space will be used every week to highlight new resources, upcoming events, and other resources related to improving health and fostering equity. If you would like your resource/event to be highlighted, please let me know at ddexter@cpehn.org. Thanks!

There’s some exciting news today from the folks over at Time for Change Foundation as they have launched a redesigned website. The Foundation, which works to empower disenfranchised, low-income individuals, now has a new online home that features upcoming events, a blog, their quarterly newsletter, volunteer opportunities, and more.

One of the Foundation’s most well-known programs is Take Action California, a terrific virtual, e-advocacy tool that features action alerts, fact sheets, and events in support of grassroots advocacy throughout California. If you’re working on issues like criminal justice reform, budget and policy reform, education, employment, and health, then Take Action California is a great platform to help amplify your voice and gain support for your work.

Take Action California is just one of many great programs that Time for Change Foundation operates, and another is the Center for Advocacy and Leadership Training (CALT). This innovative program includes a catalog of training sessions targeted to the Inland Empire to build capacity and improve communities.

These programs and many more have a new web home, and the Foundation’s new site’s interactive format and new look reflects the growth of the organization in recent years.

LCHC Event

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending two outstanding events sponsored by one of our founding ethnic partners, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC). On Thursday, LCHC held its Campeones de Salud Awards Banquet, where we were treated to a fun evening recognizing heroes in the Latino health advocacy arena, including our friends Amparo Cid of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Dr. George Flores of The California Endowment, and Gil Ojeda of the California Program on Access to Care at UC Berkeley.

Welcome to Friday Facts! Each week we'll be taking a look at a specific chart from the Data & Resources section of our website. This week we're focusing on diabetes in California.

The rates of diabetes in California (and across the country for that matter) have been cause for concern for quite a while. According to a recent report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), over 2.3 million Californians have been diagnosed with diabetes, with the vast majority (1.9 million) being Type 2. Diabetes is also the seventh leading cause of death in the state, with roughly 8,000 dying of complications each year.

As you can see in this chart from our Data & Resources section, the most recent California Health Interview Survey – conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research – found that there are some noticeable disparities in diabetes rates. Native Americans (13.9%), African Americans (11.4%) and Latinos (9.9%) all have higher diabetes rates than Whites (7.2%).

Now in its third year, the Women’s Policy Summit, a major policy forum hosted by the California Center for Research on Women and Families to advance the health, wealth, and power of women and girls, featured the leaders of both the California State Senate and Assembly. For the first time, the event also included a Health Policy Fair showcasing over 20 women’s health organizations and their priority issues and policy recommendations for 2015.

It is always interesting to hear what legislative leaders prioritize as key issues for women’s policy. For example, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins underscored her commitment to policies that uplift families out of poverty and advance reproductive health. But what should we anticipate this year? As Speaker Atkins stated, already in the state budget, we have seen $100 million of cap and trade money allocated toward transit-oriented affordable housing. In regards to what still needs to be done, she also highlighted repealing the punitive CalWORKS Maximum Family Grant rule (also known as the family cap rule) and working towards a state Earned Income Tax Credit as key policies to watch. (The California Budget Project has a great analysis of the Earned Income Tax Credit, if you'd like more information.) And, with the state budget now on stronger footing, both Speaker Atkins and Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon continued to press Governor Jerry Brown to restore funding to critical safety net programs after severe cuts during the recession.

Since 2010, CPEHN has been working closely with partners to develop a strategic plan to reduce mental health disparities, and we’re excited to finally be able to share the draft plan with you and hear your thoughts. 

Part of the groundbreaking California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) funded through Prop 63, this strategic plan is based on in-depth research compiled by partners in five populations (African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ communities, and Native Americans), with input from a seventh partner, the California MHSA Multicultural Coalition. These groups conducted extensive community engagement, reaching thousands of community members through meetings, focus groups, surveys, interviews, and one-on-one discussions to identify ways to improve wellbeing in underserved populations. As a final step in this first phase of the CRDP, CPEHN developed a strategic plan to not only provide culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies to improve access, services, and outcomes for our communities, but also to provide the state with our recommendations for funding and evaluating culturally-rooted, community-defined promising practices over the next four years.

Welcome to Tuesday Tidbits! This space will be used every week to highlight new resources, upcoming events, and other resources related to improving health and fostering equity. If you would like your resource/event to be highlighted, please let me know at ddexter@cpehn.org. Thanks!

As 2015 begins, we’re entering the second full year of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions. Here in California, we’ve seen millions sign up for coverage through an expanded Medi-Cal program and Covered California. However, not every state has experienced similar success, as many have refused to expand their Medicaid programs or start a state insurance marketplace. With a new Congress that is hostile to the ACA and legal challenges set to hit the Supreme Court, 2015 could be a pivotal year for the most meaningful piece of health reform legislation passed in a generation.

On Friday, January 9th, Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. We appreciate that Governor Brown’s $113 billion spending proposal includes a continued commitment to health care reform through the Medi-Cal expansion and increases investments in education and climate change. While his proposal does not include specific funding for immigrants impacted by President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, we are pleased that he has affirmed their Medi-Cal eligibility. 

However, despite higher than projected revenues, the Governor’s spending proposal misses an important opportunity to restore years of cuts to California’s safety-net programs and to expand health care coverage to the remaining uninsured. The lack of restorations and new funding for “Health for All” will negatively impact low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

For more than a decade our communities have been asked to endure painful cuts to services due to structural deficits in the state budget. Many continue to go without much needed health care because it remains unaffordable and out of reach. The passage of Proposition 30 in 2012 has been critical in providing much needed revenue for the state. The Governor mustn’t squander this opportunity to fulfill his goal of making California the healthiest state in the nation. An investment in California’s most vulnerable communities will improve the wellbeing of our entire state. 

For a detailed summary of the Governor's budget proposal, please visit our Policy Center.

Voices for Health Equity

We are trying something new at CPEHN as we kick off 2015! With so much great work being done to improve the health of California’s communities of color, we are creating a forum to highlight inspiring efforts. Today we are launching Voices for Health Equity, an online community that will focus on efforts here at CPEHN and by others around the state to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.

We hope you enjoy the content featured in our blog and invite you to join in the discussion. From increasing access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health coverage to addressing the social and environmental factors that impact our health, we will strive to make Voices for Health Equity an interactive, encouraging, and trusted source of information on resources, events, policy efforts, and critical issues that impact health.

Throughout the year we will be looking for guest authors so keep Voices for Health Equity in mind if you have an important call to action, a new report, or an event that can’t be missed. We’d love to help spread the word. If you’re interested in contributing, please contact our Communications Coordinator, David Dexter.

This is an important time for all of us concerned with the health of California’s communities of color. We know many of you out there are working to achieve health equity, and this blog can be a platform for your voices. So without further ado, welcome to Voices for Health Equity. Enjoy!

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