Health Access California shares the grief and outrage of the murder of George Floyd.
As we continue to mourn not just Mr. Floyd, but also the many unwarranted deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement, we must advocate for a society that fully respects the humanity of Black people.
Our fight for justice in health care is and always has been intertwined with the struggles for racial justice. As a health care consumer voice, it is our responsibility to work to abolish racism on a personal, structural, and institutional level, including in our health care system. As a leader in the movement for universal access to health care, we commit to the work to counter the state-sanctioned violence and more broadly the anti-black racism that impacts the health and lives of Black Americans daily, in all facets of life, and the real stress and trauma it causes, which often has real personal health impacts.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on long-standing systemic health and social inequities in our health system that disproportionately harm the Black community.
We look to support existing movements for health equity, broadly and in specific areas like maternal and infant mortality. While we consult with key leaders from the community about their agenda and commit to:
- Focusing our policies with explicit attention to how race and racism impacts health status, such as ensuring the collection of race and ethnicity data in health coverage and treatment to better identify health disparities and how to combat them, and supporting our partners in the work to recognize racism as a public health crisis.
- Supporting reforms to reduce disparities and inequities in areas like Black maternal mortality, with remedies such as implicit bias training, and directly address discrimination, like the advocacy around Section 1557 of the ACA. A major part of this work includes promoting and ensuring culturally competent providers and care.
- Continuing to lead in campaigns to expand and improve coverage, including to make Covered California more affordable, to expand Medi-Cal without regard to immigration status, to remove enrollment barriers, and to develop and fund aggressive efforts for outreach and education campaigns that are focused on Black and other communities of color.
- Advocating for state and federal funding for specific interventions, like the Black Infant Health Program, and for safety-net providers like public hospitals and clinics that serve Black communities.
- Backing structural reforms that create the levers of transparency and accountability on the health industry to demand improvement on the “quadruple aim” (which includes health equity) such as the Health Payments Database, and the mechanisms to hold insurers accountable to equity (Covered California Attachment 7, Medi-Cal procurement), and providers (the proposed Office of Health Care Affordability). These accountability tools need to be explicitly developed to address racial inequities, or they could exacerbate them.
Black Lives Matter. We cannot tolerate less.