Health Equity Forum: April 2019 Advocate for Health Equity

Having Our Say (HOS) and Behavioral Health Equity Collaborative (BHEC) Members Advocate for Critical Health Equity Policy

On March 21st, over 30 advocates from the Having Our Say (HOS) coalition and the Behavioral Health Equity Collaborative (BHEC) mobilized at the capitol to advocate for cultural competence, #Health4All, asthma prevention, and other critical health equity policies.

CPEHN is the backbone facilitator for both of these networks, with the HOS coalition in operation for nearly ten years and BHEC launching in 2016 to respond to the emerging needs of behavioral health issues in communities of color/LGBTQ+ population. The annual advocacy day is an opportunity for advocates to build community, learn together, and participate in legislative visits at the capitol. To learn more about the HOS coalition, click here.

Advocates started off the day with Ignatius Bau, Health Policy Consultant, who provided an interactive presentation on the financing structure of the health care system in the United States. He emphasized that despite the $3.5 trillion ($10,700 per person) expenditure on health care in 2017, not enough actually goes to providing care. Advocates shared how the inequitable health care systems impacts communities of color the hardest. With limited coverage and poor quality of care, coupled with other social determinants of health, many of advocates’ constituents suffer from persistent poor health outcomes.

To prepare for the legislative visits, advocates brainstormed how their bills are part of the solution to fixing the inequitable health care systems. They also brainstormed other solutions that would increase coverage, improve quality of care, and reduce disparities, such as advocating for value-based payments, redistributing resources to community-based solutions, and converting fragmented service delivery to medical homes (comprised of doctors, community health workers, nurses, and other team of care coordinators collaborating to provide care).

Energized from the robust morning discussion, advocates visited over 20+ key legislative staff to advocate for the following bills. These policies reflect the priorities set forth by advocates from both of the networks in November of 2018, informed by issues arising from communities of color/LGBTQ+ population.

  • Health4All: AB4 and SB 29
  • Healthcare Navigator Budget Ask: $30 million over 2 years
  • Cultural Competence in Mental Health: AB 512
  • Asthma Preventative Services: SB 207+ Budget Ask ($14.8 million)
  • Readability of Medi-Cal documents: AB 318
  • Medi-Cal Quality: AB 537