Major congressional caucuses push health reform…

Rep. Michael Honda stood with Health Care for America Now, Health Access California, and other groups this morning in San Jose, to releasee new California-specific report today today showing that racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes constitute a crisis, one that requires the attention of health care providers, policymakers, and communities alike. As the study shows, in California, communities of color and immigrants face barriers in accessing health care including lack of insurance coverage, limits to geographic access, and cultural and linguistic challenges.

“Since the publication of the momentous 2002 Institute Of Medicine study confirming the depth and breadth of disparities in health care faced by racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, I have worked tirelessly with my colleagues to reform our health care system to correct these inequities” said Representative Mike Honda (D – San Jose), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “Children should not have to translate complicated medical information for their parents, patients should have access to quality, affordable care regardless of the language they speak, the color of their skin, or where they live. The public option within health reform is a singular opportunity to both expand competition in the health care industry and rectify injustices faced by too many in our communities.”

This took on special emphasis this week because the Congressional TriCaucus – comprised of the Congressional Black Caucus (chaired by CA Rep. Barbara Lee), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (chaired by CA Rep. Honda) – and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (chaired by CA Rep. Lynn Woolsey) — altogether 120 House and Senate Members — will hold a news conference on Wednesday, June 24 at 10 am expressing unprecedented, united, and strong support for comprehensive healthcare reform, of which the cornerstone must be a robust public health insurance option.

At the press conference this morning, Honda joined Health Care for America Now (HCAN); Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI); Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA); California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC); California Pan Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN); the Having Our Say Coalition; Health Access California, and Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN) in highlighting the specific needs of our communities and calling upon Congressional leaders to include them in the Health Reform Debate. The report is available at:
http://www.health-access.org/files/expanding/Ideas%20in%20Action%20The%20Heatlh%20Equity%20Challenge%20CA%206-20-09.pdf

“As three-quarters of the uninsured in this state, communities of color have the most at stake in health reform” according to Martin Martinez, Policy Director at the California Pan Ethnic Health Network. “If the United States is going to be positioned for a successful future, we need to make sure that everyone has access to affordable, comprehensive, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. We urge Congress to act this year to enact meaningful reform that addresses these inequalities in health.”

The debate over health reform in Washington DC represents a historic opportunity to achieve quality and affordable health care for all; it is critical that reform efforts take into account the specific needs of immigrants and communities of color. We must expand and simplify public programs to cover all low-income individuals, and give everyone the option of buying into a public plan. We must also invest in building healthy communities to address the underlying causes of the obesity and chronic disease epidemics that are disproportionately affecting communities of color.

The time is now.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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