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Voices for Health Equity

Voices for Health Equity

At Covered California’s latest April Board meeting, Executive Director Peter Lee declared: “We are raising the bar not just for California but for the nation.” Mr. Lee was referring to the bold initiatives adopted by the Covered California board that they expect will improve quality of care for Covered California enrollees, make advances in hospital safety, and promote primary prevention and wellness. The contracts will include 45 separate distinct requirements on plans focused on improving health outcomes for Covered California enrollees (See Attachment 7).

Starting in 2017, Covered California’s contracts will require health plans to demonstrate year-over-year reductions in health disparities in four targeted areas of chronic disease: diabetes, asthma, hypertension and behavioral health. In order to accurately measure disparities, health plans will be required to share quality and performance data for all their lines of business. Additionally, plans will be required to increase the percentage of self-reported demographic data for their Covered California enrollees with a goal of 80% of enrollees reporting by the end of 2019.

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One of the ways CPEHN participated in National Minority Health Month in April was by co-hosting a panel of experts with the Asian Pacific Islander Capital Association to discuss the status of health equity among the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community. The experts highlighted various approaches we can all take to eliminate health disparities disproportionally affecting certain API communities.

What are the barriers keeping communities from achieving a healthy community?

“You can’t fix what you don’t know,” proclaimed Jonathan Tran from The California Endowment. He was referring to the lack of information and data available regarding South East Asian communities. Before funding and resources can be streamlined into building a healthier community, access to comprehensive data must exist. Since data regarding Asian Americans is characterized for as a whole, research studies are limited in their ability to accurately identify information about the issues affecting specific Asian American subgroups. When all communities are counted for and validated, the numbers can be used to implement change. The AHEAD Act — AB 1726 — addresses this necessary concern by requiring higher education institutions and public health agencies to disaggregate data for additional API groups.

Many Californians face huge challenges in accessing substance use treatment services. Social and environmental factors including low socioeconomic status, low literacy, unemployment, discrimination, and other factors negatively impact our ability to lead healthy lives. Many people of color and Limited English Proficient populations additionally face a lack of culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services. Further, stigma and discrimination linked with accessing services also remain barriers to accessing treatment for many, especially those with previous criminal justice involvement.

California’s Medi-Cal 2020 1115(a) Waiver Demonstration Project provides new opportunities to expand substance use services to include a fuller continuum of care that includes withdrawal management, medication-assisted treatment, short-term residential, case management and care coordination with physical and mental health, and recovery support services. Drug Medi-Cal eligibility also expands to include single adults without children, which mean more people are able to receive substance use treatment services than ever before.

To address these barriers and disparities, communities of color – those most in need of services – need to be involved in the development and design of treatment options, and policymakers must consider the root causes of substance use disorders in vulnerable and underserved communities. That’s why CPEHN is engaging our communities to get involved so that the needs of underserved communities are included and addressed in the implementation of these new services. With stakeholder input from underserved populations, county departments of behavioral health can better meet the needs of the most vulnerable communities.

Come out and Support the Oakland Sugar Sweetened Beverage Distributors Tax at the May 3rd Oakland City Council Meeting!

On May 3rd, the Oakland City Council will vote on placing a Sugar Sweetened Beverage Distributors Tax on the November 2016 ballot. The Rules and Leg Committee voted unanimously on April 7th to bring the measure to the full council. Over 35 speakers signed up to talk and displayed an amazing show of support. In an emotional ending, Councilmember Larry Reid shared the recent loss of his young nephew to complications from undiagnosed diabetes, as well as his and his family’s history with diabetes.  He shared he used to drink soda like water, before he knew the detrimental effects. This tax measure will help raise awareness, decrease consumption, and provide funding for community programs that combat the impact of sugary drinks. The City Council needs to vote YES to place it on the ballot!

The measure is supported by the Coalition for Healthy Oakland Children, a broad coalition of concerned public health professionals, elected officials, parents, faith and community leaders and concerned residents pulling together to address the diabetes crisis and other chronic diseases related to sugary beverages, and to improve health through education and the passage of health policy. While the industry is worried about their profits, coalition members are worried about the health and future of our next generation. 

We need your voice!! Come out and support this measure at the Oakland City Council meeting on May 3rd. For more information visit: www.yes4healthyoaklandchildren.com.

Please join our diverse coalition that has come together to plan and host a very special Mental Health Matters Day. 

We have some exciting speakers and entertainment booked including Scott Budnick, founder and president of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and executive producer of "The Hangover" movie series, and Yashi Brown, a poet/spoken word artist and mental health advocate who has lived with bipolar disorder and author of "Black Daisy in a White Limousine: 77 Poems." Our event emcee will be Paul Gilmartin, former TV host of TBS' "Dinner and a Movie," stand-up comedian (Comedy Central Presents) and host of Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast. 

Also, be sure to bring your picnic gear (folding chairs, blankets, etc.) and stay for our food truck party following the speaking program. We will have DJ Anointed opening the event and DJ Joseph One closing out our day.

Mental Health Matters Day
State Capitol, West Steps
Sacramento, CA
May 24, 2016

Visit www.mentalhealthmattersday.org for more information and check out the following links:

Covered California’s Board of Directors voted on April 7th to require Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) selling insurance in the Exchange to reduce health disparities for their enrollees starting in 2017. Under this new initiative health plans will be provided with incentives for showing year-over-year improvement in key target areas where disparities are well-documented: diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and mental health. To achieve these goals, health plans will also be required to increase the percentage of self-reported demographic data of their membership annually with an 80% goal by the end of 2019.

“We are raising the bar not just for California but for the nation,” declared Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California. Covered California’s new contract requirements included as part of Attachment 7 to the QHP contract, includes 45 separate and distinct new requirements on plans focused on improving the quality of care for Covered California enrollees. These new requirements which were the culmination of six months of stakeholder discussions led by Covered California’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lance Lang also include important new requirements to improve hospital safety and promote primary prevention and wellness, amongst other initiatives.

Two important bills are being heard soon and your voice is needed to make sure they get through the first policy committee. Send your letters of support TODAY to urge the Assembly and Senate Health Committees to pass these important new policies:

We know that oral health is much more than just toothaches and cavities. Oral health plays a key role in our overall wellbeing and can contribute to school absence and worsen chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Lack of access to culturally competent dental providers and linguistically appropriate services, as well as the high cost of dental care all contribute to oral health disparities which disproportionately impact low-income and communities of color.

In California, cuts to the state budget that resulted in the elimination of dental care for adults in the Denti-Cal program and a lack of comprehensive access to oral health care have only exacerbated oral health disparities.

Join us for our spring convening series, Taking a Bite Out of Oral Health Inequities: Strategies and Solutions for Communities of Color, as we highlight opportunities to advance oral health equity for communities of color at the state and local level.

CPEHN’s convening will provide you the opportunity to: 

  • Hear from local advocates about oral health challenges from access to care to unhealthy food environments in their communities
  • Learn about opportunities to support local and statewide efforts to advance oral health equity
  • Share ideas and take action on policies to reduce oral health disparities in California 

Registration is $25 for the General Public, $10 for CPEHN Network Members. The Network Member discount code is: 4EQUITY
Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Interpretation is available by request. 

On March 30, community advocates and public health professionals from across the state of California will be converging on Sacramento for ENACT Day. Whether you will be attending in person or not, you can make a difference this ENACT Day.

If you care about ensuring every Californian has access to safe drinking water, connecting students to affordable public transit passes, curbing the consumption of sugary drinks, opening active transportation funding opportunities to communities of greatest need, and making sure no children go hungry during the summer months, Virtual ENACT Day is for you!

Virtual ENACT Day has all the tools you need to be an outstanding e-advocate, from factsheets to letters of support you can send directly to your legislators. Over the past two years, advocates like you have sent nearly 2,000 letters in support of California health bills.

Click on the hyperlinks below to access customizable letters of support for each of this year’s bills. Letters that illustrate why these bills matter to you and how they’ll make a difference in your community are especially impactful.

We need your support to increase access to fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables for low-income Californians. Limited access and lack of resources to purchase healthy food can have a huge impact on health outcomes and chronic diseases, which disproportionately impact people of color.

Last year, Governor Brown signed AB 1321 (Ting), creating the Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program which would double the amount of nutrition benefits (e.g. CalFresh, WIC, and SSI) available to low-income Californians through grants to certified farmers’ markets. Now, a coalition of advocates are requesting a $5 million state budget proposal to fund this program, which would expand the number of participating certified farmers’ markets and small business.
 
Please send your letter of support today to support the Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program. This budget proposal will be heard next Wednesday (3/30) in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No.3 on Resources and Transportation. Click here for a sample letter of support.
 
Hearing Date: 
Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation
Wednesday, March 30
Room 447
9:00 AM

Your support is needed TODAY. Please send your letters of support by Monday, March 28th!

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