As the various caucuses at the U.S. House of Representatives make their decisions, California is showing a lot of leadership, and is poised to show more leadership on health care
California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey maintains her position as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Her co-chair for the past session, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, is now the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
In the past Congress, California had Congressman Michael Honda as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucis, and Joe Baca as chair of the California Hispanic Caucus. California Congresswoman Hilda Solis, who was chair of the Tri-Caucus (representing Asian, Hispanic, and Black Caucuses), will serve as second vice-chair of the California Hispanic Caucus.
We don’t think it is a coincidence that all these members are early supporters of the Health Care for America Now! campaign, supporting the HCAN princples, rather than so-called reforms that leave consumers alone at the mercy of the insurance industry. Over 150 members already support the principles, and more are signing up every day, and the session hasn’t started yet.
California Congressional representatives sign on because they know health care reform is a huge priority for the state of California: Californians are signficantly less likely to have coverage, less likely to get coverage on the job, more lilkely to be denied for pre-existing conditions, than Americans as a whole.
Congressional leaders representing communities of color know how much the health care crisis impacts *all* of California’s diverse communities, and how these communities of color have the most at stake in the health care debate. A month ago, Health Access California and key other groups representing communities of color spotlighted these issues at press events in both Northern and Southern California.
At Asian Health Services in Oakland, and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, health advocates and experts spotlighted the urgent need for health reform throughout California’s diverse communities, as evidenced by the leadership of our Representatives, who chair the major Congressional caucuses that represent communities of color.
Responding to growing disparities in rates for chronic diseases, clinical outcomes, and health care coverage, their early leadership shows the urgency that health reform has in California’s communities of color. The “Which Side Are You On?” statement that the Congressional leaders signed is online here: (pdf) http://hcfan.3cdn.net/517370ec1fddf45044_vbm6ivw3d.pdf
As our colleague Ellen Wu, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network said, “Our current health care system is failing our diverse communities. With communities of color making up more than 70% of California’s uninsured, we need our leaders to fight for health care options that place our collective well-being ahead of profits for the insurance industry” Other speakers at the events included Mari Lopez of the California Partnership; Reshma Shamasunder of the California Immigrant Policy Center; Dong Suh, Associate Director, Asian Health Services; myself, and others.
We are pleased that our Congressional delegation will continue to be in the lead on these issues.