Divergent News

Health Equity Forum – CPEHN’s Quarterly Newsletter

Health Equity Forum
October 2019
Voice for Change: “Without health equity there can be no justice!”
– Elizabeth Bustos, San Diego
Looking Forward to 2020
By Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director

With 2019 rushing to a close and new decade upon us, we at CPEHN are taking stock and looking forward. I’m excited to share with you some of what we are learning, planning and hoping.
CPEHN recently had the privilege of working with six partner organizations to host consumer focus groups across the state. We heard from the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Southern California, Native American consumers in Sacramento, LGBTQ+ individuals in Ventura County, people with disabilities in the Bay Area, Black women in Los Angeles, and Latinx communities in Fresno. The conversations were rich and complex. It is clear that experiences with health care vary widely depending on who you are and what you need from your care.
 Too many people, across race and region, experience dehumanizing and stigmatizing treatment from systems and providers.Despite legal protections and decades of advocacy, consumers still face significant access barriers and are often not informed of basic rights.People have a desire to be involved in their care, to be heard, and to be seen for their whole selves.
We will be continuing to engage with consumers and learn what needs to be done to ensure that all Californians benefit from the advances in our health care system. You can read more about our focus group results here. 
Earlier this month, our staff convened in Apple Hill to eat pie and plan for next year. I was again reminded of how lucky we are to have such a talented and committed group of people at CPEHN. Some key issues that we plan to pursue in 2020 include:
 Better integration of health care with mental health care and dental service, as well as historically non-medical services like legal assistance and transportation.Accountability for health plans to meet quality goals and improve health outcomes for communities of color. The California Health Care Foundation recently released a report regarding quality in Medi-Cal managed care, which shows that quality of care is largely not improving and in some cases is becoming worse. This is not a surprise given what we hear from consumers, but cannot become the status quo.Aligning health care spending with consumer needs by paying more effectively for culturally responsive care, language assistance, and community-based services.
We look forward to partnering with all of you to pursue these critical issues in 2020.
CPEHN was founded nearly 30 years ago on the premise that communities of color could unite to demonstrate the power necessary to ensure that our health care needs were met. The past few years of national turmoil have shown us that this idea continues to be essential. The political structures that exist were never meant to benefit our communities, but we can raise our voices together to create change. I am heartened by the outpouring of community resistance to the xenophobic public charge regulation that has, for now, protected us from devastating consequences. As we look toward 2020, I am hopeful that we will soon emerge from this time united and determined to continue to seek justice.

On a personal note, my ED update will be on hiatus until mid-2020 while I am on maternity leave. My spouse and I are thrilled (and terrified) to be expecting our first baby this New Year’s! Rest assured, the staff at CPEHN will remain hard at work and are happy to hear from you at any time. Please reach out to us at

Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director
CPEHN Legislative and Budget Update 2019
This year CPEHN is proud to have spearheaded an equity-focused policy agenda. From holding health plans accountable to addressing disparities in access to mental health care, CPEHN collaborated with our statewide partners to highlight some of the most pressing challenges our communities face daily.

Three of CPEHN’s sponsored bill were passed by both the Assembly and the Senate with bipartisan support. They included AB 318 (Chu) on Medi-Cal translations and readability, AB 512 (Ting) cultural competence in mental health, and AB 929 (L. Rivas) on health plan accountability on disparity reduction. Our partners were instrumental to this success, generating dozens of letters of support, providing expert testimony, and sharing your stories.

We will continue to advocate for the effective implementation of these budget and legislative successes to ensure that communities in most need receive the care they deserve. As we conclude this 2019 legislative year, we look forward to crafting our 2020 agenda with immense lessons learned and a newfound energy to keep advancing strong public policy on behalf of our communities.

Read More
Federal Update
Federal Judge’s Block Trump’s Discriminatory Public Charge Rule
On Friday, October 11th, federal court judges in New York and Washington granted nationwide preliminary injunctions against the public charge rule that was scheduled to go into effect on October 15th. The judges cited the irreparable harm to immigrant families should the rule go into effect. A federal judge in California issued a third ruling with a more limited injunction based on similar findings.

The public charge rule, which was released on August 12th, would result in large-scale increases in poverty, hunger and unmet health and housing needs. Under the new rule, immigration officials would look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of more public programs, including:
 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, “EBT” or “Food Stamps”)Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistanceMedicaid (except for emergency services, children under 21 years, pregnant women, and new mothers) and;Cash assistance programs (like SSI, TANF, General Assistance).
As a result of Friday’s injunctions, the public charge rule cannot be implemented and families can continue to access the services they need.
While we celebrate this victory, we have heard stories first hand of Californians failing to enroll in health care coverage and other vital programs out of fear for their families’ safety. We join our national partner, Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) in calling on our Congressional leaders to make sure this rule never goes forward. For more information and the latest updates on public charge and other anti-immigrant attacks, visit the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) campaign.
Read More 
What Do Diverse Communities Think About Their Health Care?
In July and August 2019, CPEHN worked with six partner organizations, including Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Black Women for Wellness, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Consortium for Urban Indian Health, and Diversity Collective of Ventura County to host six focus groups across the state to gather data for the Health Equity System Transformation (HEST) project. These focus groups sought to engage consumers with diverse identities and backgrounds, including race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, primary language, disability status, age, and marital status. Discussions were around key areas including accessibility and quality of care, health care costs, doctor-patient engagement, and cultural sensitivity. As a result, we heard many voices and stories reflecting a diversity of health care experiences. We were also able to identify the following common themes shared among many focus group participants.

*This project is funded by the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)
Read More
Picture 1: participants at the Fresno HEST Convening, September 26, 2019
Picture 2: participants at the Orange County HEST Convening, September 17, 2019

By Eve Reiland

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