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Voices for Health Equity

Voices for Health Equity

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!

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Los Angeles County Council and Urban Los Angeles Affiliate, are coordinating their second annual diversity conference on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Cultural anthropologist and sought after professor of African Studies and Human Development, Dr. Erylene Piper-Mandy will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Piper-­Mandy will address the paradigm shifts necessary to move toward institutionalizing culturally­‐relevant practice. Other presenters include renowned experts like internationally recognized psychologist Dr. Steven Lopez of USC, whose cultural competency model is currently being funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills, clinical psychologist who has studied internationally to identify African­‐centered models for treatment engagement for African Americans; Dr. Terry Gock, expert in Asian and Pacific Islander mental health, who has championed recognition of community defined practice as evidence based practice, nationally among organizations like SAMHSA and the American Psychological Association; and addiction psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Dickerson of UCLA, principal investigator of an NIH funded research grant for Drum-Assisted Recovery Therapy for Native Americans (DARTNA).  

The Community Health Advocate School at Augustus F. Hawkins High School in Los Angeles is hosting this year’s conference, entitled Bridging the Cultural Divide - Beyond Evidence-Based Practice in Diverse Communities. The 2016 NAMI Diversity Conference is made possible by contributions from transformative sponsors, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and LA Care Health Plan, and through the generous support of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

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Cross-posted from TransForm's blog

Transportation is supposed to help us get from one place to another. But for many Californians, our transportation system instead creates huge barriers – to health, safety, opportunity, and more.

Our transportation system is a barrier to health when kids get asthma from tailpipe pollution because there are too many cars on the road, and no other options. It’s a barrier to safety when a family has no sidewalks between their home and their school. And it’s a barrier to opportunity when getting to work requires you to own a car and pay for gas – or spend hours on insufficient public transportation.

These barriers are worst in low-income communities and communities of color, where transportation officials have been more likely to build highways that divide and pollute neighborhoods, and less likely to build sidewalks, bike lanes, and reliable public transportation.

We didn’t arrive at this transportation system by mistake. Instead, there’s a long history of making choices to prioritize car travel and wealthier communities over the needs of California’s most vulnerable. 

We’ve seen our leaders begin to shift their thinking in the realm of sustainability, and make sure our climate investments benefit all Californians. But they have not done the same with the much larger pots of money used to maintain and expand our roads and highways.

Until now.

When it comes to population health and equity, no single intervention or improvement strategy can solve our challenges alone. That’s the case made in a new commentary just released by Prevention Institute and JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. That’s also why it’s so important that the request for proposals for Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) pilots in California includes a requirement that ACHs adopt a portfolio of strategies for advancing health. These include:

  • Clinical Services
  • Community and Social Services Programs
  • Clinical-Community Linkages
  • Environment
  • Public Policy and Systems Change

By aligning strategies across the portfolio, the interventions achieve a synergistic effect and compound into true population health improvement for communities. The success of this type of approach has been demonstrated repeatedly over the last 50 years through health improvement efforts that have incorporated both individual intervention and community-based prevention to take on issues as diverse as tobacco, driving under the influence, lead exposure, and violence, leading to public health victories that would never have been possible through individual sectors’ separate efforts.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and we have a reason for you to smile. More kids than ever before have dental coverage in California. Pediatric dental coverage is included in all Covered California health plans thanks to policy changes implemented last year, and all children enrolled in Medi-Cal also have dental coverage. This coverage opens the door to preventive dental services, such as exams, fluoride treatments, and more. There is also coverage for treatment of problems, such as fillings and other needed care.

Expanded coverage is especially significant for low-income children and communities of color facing stark inequities in oral health. According to a report by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, the disparity in oral health between poor and affluent children in California is the worst in the nation. African American and Latino children are less likely to have seen a dental provider and often wait longer between visits. When children don’t have good oral health and get the care they deserve, they are at risk for missing school and performing poorly in class, and they often end up in the emergency room for preventable dental problems that become costly when left untreated.

Dental coverage and learning how to use that coverage to get preventive services is the foundation for kids to have healthy teeth. Many families, however, may not know their kids have coverage or how to get dental care. That’s why The Children’s Partnership developed brand new flyers to help families learn how to navigate their children’s dental coverage.

The latest issue of our Health Equity Forum newsletter came out today and it includes several great articles and dozens of resources.

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.

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