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Health Equity Forum: Ethnic Partner Spotlight – January 2015

Hundreds Convene on Sacramento to Celebrate CBHN’s 2014 Heroes in Health 

By B. Darcel Lee, President & CEO, California Black Health Network

On November 1, 2014, California Black Health Network (CBHN) hosted its annual Heroes in Health Awards Gala at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event was designed to honor those most responsible for the passing of the Affordable Care Act and the implementation of the state’s health benefits exchange, Covered California.   
California has the largest number of enrollees in the entire nation. There was a particular focus on California during the first open enrollment period and the state received a great deal of federal resources. CBHN’s Heroes in Health Gala provided the perfect end-of-the-first-year opportunity to celebrate California’s accomplishments and successes and highlight some of the wonderful human interest stories that evolved as more and more people gained health insurance coverage throughout the state. 

Leaders from around the state gathered to support this event, including Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Congressman Ami Bera, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, California Wellness Foundation President and CEO Judy Belk, The California Endowment President and CEO Dr. Robert Ross, and a host of other leaders and dignitaries. The event’s Mistress of Ceremonies was the illustrious Barbara Perkins, President and CEO of the International Black Women’s Political Caucus and CBHN was proud to have the evening’s keynote address delivered by Crystal Brown, the White House Senior Director for Cabinet Affairs. Ms. Brown brought personal greetings from President Barack Obama and let the audience know that CBHN was on the radar of the White House for its contributions to African American outreach, education, and enrollment in partnership with Covered California. 

Those honored included a list of California’s “who’s who” in health as well as advocates from a variety of organizations.

The CBHN Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Herb Schultz, former Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IX, for his lifetime contributions to health and particularly for his focus on the ACA and the Covered California implementation. Remarks about Mr. Schultz’s life were conveyed by Interim Region IX Director, Ken Shapiro. 

The Antronette Yancey Health and Fitness Award was presented to six Sacramento pastors who not only participated in CBHN’s Faith-Based Initiative, but also actively engaged in outreach and enrollment efforts on behalf of Covered California. 

Policymakers of the Year included Senator William Monning, Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, whose city was the first to conduct a city-wide outreach and enrollment effort.

Even the efforts of the Hollywood community were recognized as Eric Ortner, Hollywood producer and talent manager and personal friend of President Obama, was honored for his efforts to organize the entertainment community on behalf of the ACA and Covered California. 

Advocates of the Year Awards went to former CPEHN Executive Director Ellen Wu for her tireless efforts on behalf of the ACA and Covered California and to Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access, who was significantly instrumental in championing the needs of the safety net during the implementation of Covered California. 

The Chairman’s Award was presented to none other than Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California, and the President’s Award went to Bernard Tyson, President and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. 

All in all it was a wonderful and historical event celebrating some of California’s finest health achievements.