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Health Equity Forum: News from the Executive Director – July 2015

Celebrating Victories, Mourning Lives Lost

The past few weeks have been filled with groundbreaking events that have a significant impact on the health of our families, our communities, and our nation! We have also seen a great tragedy befall a sacred space for a community. While we stand in celebration of the victories in health care and marriage equality, we hold the families of South Carolina who lost their loved ones in our hearts and minds.

California Expands Health Care for All Children

Over the past few years, California has endured deep cuts to health and social services, which has had a devastating impact on low-income and communities of color. This year, the legislature and Governor came to a historic agreement to expand health care to all children in California regardless of immigration status. The budget includes $40 million dollars to expand coverage to children who are income eligible by May 2016. California joins New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, and the District of Columbia in prioritizing the future and wellbeing of children by making health care coverage available to all regardless of immigration status. This is an important step forward in honoring California’s long tradition of valuing the immigrant community while we continue our efforts to ensure health for all.

Critical Supreme Court Decisions Affirm the Affordable Care Act and Marriage Equality

Recently we also witnessed two monumental Supreme Court decisions that solidify the path to equity and better health for our nation. The decision in King v. Burwell demonstrates yet again that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. The 6-3 ruling found that subsidies, which are critical to maintaining affordable health care coverage for 16 million Americans, provided through the federal exchange are lawful and may continue. The decision reinforces the Affordable Care Act as law of the land. Rather than continuing efforts to overturn it, Congress needs to move forward so that we can focus our energies towards implementing it in the best, most equitable way possible.

Additionally, we saw a huge victory for marriage equality with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling requiring states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex unions from other states. We stand in unity and celebration with LGBTQ advocates, many of whom are from communities of color, while we continue the hard work toward improving the health, wellness, and safety of all in the LGBTQ community.  

Grieving for the Lives Lost in South Carolina

Even as we celebrate these victories, we do so under a shadow of grief. We mourn the devastating loss of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Among those killed was Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a state senator and tireless advocate for communities of color, who championed the expansion of Medicaid in his state. We stand in solidarity with the families and communities in South Carolina and send them our thoughts and prayers.

This hate crime in South Carolina is reminder of the insidious racism that continues to plague our country, and that African Americans continue to be the victims of hate crimes at disproportionate rates. Two-thirds of all race-related hate crimes are anti-black, and one-third of all hate crimes nationwide. Overt and institutional racism not only perpetuate violence but also fuel persistent health disparities among communities of color. As we grieve the loss from this horrific act, we honor their memories by building upon recent successes and continuing towards health and justice for all.