Senator Lara Statewide Community Tour Celebrates #Health4All, Recharges for Work Still To Do

This blog entry was written by Muneera Gardezi, Health Access’ LA-based organizer.

Two weeks ago Senator Ricardo Lara gathered with activists in a #Health4All Statewide Community Tour to celebrate the successes of the Health4All Campaign to date and recharge for the work still to do to bring about quality health care and coverage for all Californians.

The expansion of Medi-Cal to all children regardless of immigration status included in the final 2015-16 budget alone would make 2015 a year to be remembered as a breakthrough year for #Health4All. The budget action confirming that low-income adults who receive deferred action under the President’s executive order (assuming it withstands court challenges) also makes 2015 a year to be remembered. But too many Californians are still without coverage of any kind.

Sen. Lara’s recent decision to limit the scope of SB 4 to allowing all Californians regardless of status to purchase coverage on Covered California using their own money—and to re-purpose SB 10 to include a Medi-Cal expansion for all adults but then “park it” for consideration in 2016–left community tour participants with plenty of questions, in addition to kudos, for Senator Lara.

On July 23rd, Senator Lara made his stop In Southern California where hundreds of advocates and community members gathered at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South Los Angeles to celebrate progress on Health4All and discuss next steps with the Senator. To better serve and engage consumers who will benefit directly from #Health4All, Senator Lara’s Los Angeles event featured a combination press conference and health fair.

While the fair was going on outside, Senator Lara spoke to members of the community and advocates for over twenty minutes addressing questions and concerns, taking time to individually meet with advocates who are invested in the health of Los Angeles. Health Access’s own Nancy Gomez shared her own reflections on the overall campaign as part of a panel of local experts.

This and the other stops on the statewide tour provided opportunity to reflect upon the successes of our work as a coalition. According to community tour participants the Health4All organizing efforts have been strong, thoughtful, and incredibly diverse in nature. For the last two years health advocates and immigrant rights groups have worked together to strategically gather support and build a campaign around the idea that everyone, regardless of immigration status, deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare.

The campaign for Health4All has been statewide, with a coalition of organizations advocating for: immigrant rights, access to health care, labor rights, and robust solutions to poverty. The span of our coalition includes people working at the grassroots level to lobbyists in Sacramento. The diversity and strength of this campaign is a success in and of itself, as it has brought so many people together who might otherwise work in silos.

On the day of the Health4All stop in Los Angeles, Southern California activists felt proud to celebrate recent #Health4All successes with their partners. Still, we know that there is a long road ahead of us and that Health4All is not complete until everyone, no matter what age or status, has access to care and coverage. We also know that our efforts from the grassroots and up have paid off. We can now say we have “Health4All children” in California and this is truly a victory.

Sen. Lara’s community tour gave us all a chance to reflect upon all of our collective efforts and celebrate the community members who took time out of their busy lives to drive to the Capitol with their children from East Los Angeles to testify for SB4 or to join the Health4All Care-A-Van to mobilize other community members around this issue. Most of all, we celebrated the undocumented folks who have shared their lives through poetry, art, storytelling, activism, and who made it clear that #Health4All is a matter of life and death.

With Senator Lara and so many others who participated in the community tours we celebrate the resilience of people who believe that change can occur one step at a time and who will not settle for less than the full vision and scope of #Health4All.