They Listened! Covered California to Hire a Diversity Officer

They Listened! Covered California to Hire a Diversity Officer

You may remember that back in June we released a new report on how well Covered California did in the first year, Covered California’s First Year: Strong Enrollment Numbers Mask Serious Gaps. One of those gaps was in outreach to Californians who don’t speak English well, and we said that Covered California needed to have a more intentional effort to incorporate diversity and inclusion in to all aspects of its business model in order to better reach the communities they serve, namely communities of color. Diversity and inclusion efforts need to start from the top in order to permeate all aspects of the organization’s culture and activities. So we recommended…
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Help Invest in Our Boys and Men of Color

Help Invest in Our Boys and Men of Color

              Last week I had the pleasure to attend and speak at the Advocates for Health, Economics and Development (AHEAD) Conference, where advocates, regulators, business representatives, and other stakeholders came together to discuss opportunities to increase our health workforce while addressing issues of health and health care costs.  At the conference we had the honor of hearing from Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-79), who highlighted one of the major barriers to employment for communities of color, and more specifically our boys and men of color: the cradle to prison pipeline and lack of resources to help those who have been released from jail or prison…
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Help Us Push for #Health4All TODAY!

Help Us Push for #Health4All TODAY!

We are officially three weeks out from the end of the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period and there is a lot of reason to celebrate: In California, nearly 1.4 million people have signed up for private health insurance coverage through Covered California and 1.9 million have signed up for Medi-Cal. With these numbers, California has established itself as the leader in Obamacare enrollment but as others have rightfully indicated, it’s too early to take a victory lap. Some of our neighbors have been left out. I agree with what many others have said before—while the enrollment numbers are great, we still have a lot more work to do. …
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Community Voice Must Be Heard in Community Benefit Decisions

Community Voice Must Be Heard in Community Benefit Decisions

This week I had the pleasure of joining a convening hosted by PolicyLink and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) on how not-for-profit hospital community benefit, combined with new rules and the expansion of coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), might help in moving towards childhood obesity reduction.  I learned an important lesson about the voice of the community in these discussions. First, a quick refresher: “Community benefit” refers to the obligation of not-for-profit hospitals to operate for the benefit of the communities they serve, in exchange for the enormous tax break we give them. Community benefit includes financial assistance for the medical care of low-to-moderate income patients, the…
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Ending the Lifetime Ban on Public Assistance Will Help Set California on the Right Track

Ending the Lifetime Ban on Public Assistance Will Help Set California on the Right Track

Here’s a quick question: When an inmate has completed his or her sentence and is released from prison, which would you rather they do? a)      Get training and a job, becoming part of the legal economy, or b)      Return to crime, because all legal options have been made impossible or close to it If you chose a), you might be surprised to know that California law now favors choice b).  Our state blocks the formerly incarcerated from accessing the help and services they need to earn a living legally. It’s time for that to change. Last week The Greenlining Institute joined 75 other organizations in asking California’s governor and state legislative leaders…
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Medi-Cal, California’s New Budget, and that Controversial Study

Medi-Cal, California’s New Budget, and that Controversial Study

New study results from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment were released last week and similar to what I reported back in May, the results are creating controversy in the media – a controversy that has some connections to California’s just-released 2014-15 budget. For those who didn’t read my last blog post, the Oregon study is considered groundbreaking because it marked the first time researchers could use a randomized, controlled design to evaluate the impact of Medicaid, our nation’s health care program for low-income individuals and families (called Medi-Cal in California), That’s because Oregon made a policy decision to offer Medicaid to those who qualify through a lottery system, meaning  some people had access…
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Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job

Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job

“We are not expendable!” shouted a Pastor from Brentwood, a town in Contra Costa County. The Pastor shared the story of his time working in construction, and his boss would frequently tell him: “You’re worthless to me if you get hurt. You get hurt, I’ll fire you.” This was just one of many compelling testimonies shared throughout the day at the PICO Economic Summit held this past Saturday. Speakers focused on the exclusion of people of color from jobs in the Bay Area’s thriving growth sectors like tech and health care. Testimony after testimony shared stories of people excluded from the economy because of a criminal history, homelessness, racial profiling,…
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Covered California’s Enrollment Numbers Account for 1/3rd of All Enrollments Nationally

Covered California’s Enrollment Numbers Account for 1/3rd of All Enrollments Nationally

Much anticipation has brewed while stakeholders, policymakers, and consumers have diligently waited for Covered California to release its enrollment numbers. Much of this anticipation has come on the heels of healthcare.gov not producing the numbers the Obama Administration would have hoped for by now. My colleague, Jordan Medina, however, has pointed out that Covered California is not healthcare.gov. While Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee has said that the numbers will not appear as impressive as people are hoping, they do fall short of the original enrollment goals, with 35,000 people enrolling in Covered California and another 80,000 into Medi-Cal from October 1st to November 2nd. However, according to Sarah…
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Be a Part of this Historic Moment: Enroll in Health Insurance Today!

Be a Part of this Historic Moment: Enroll in Health Insurance Today!

  Health care as we know it is changing, and that’s a big deal! Last week our new health policy fellow blogged about this historic moment, provided information on who will most likely benefit from the expansions occurring due to the Affordable Care Act, and highlighted some outreach efforts that are happening now. Starting TODAY Californians can now shop and compare health plans and enroll into an affordable, quality plan through Covered California, for coverage to begin on January 1, 2014. If you have questions or need some extra help with your application, call Covered California at 1-800-300-1506 and a person will be able to help you in your preferred…
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SB 649: One Step Closer to a Fairer Criminal Justice System

SB 649: One Step Closer to a Fairer Criminal Justice System

Props to Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) for stepping up to help fix our broken justice system. Last week, his SB 649 passed the Assembly, with concurrence from the Senate, and now moves on to the Governor. If signed into law, the bill will help shrink our prison population and reduce recidivism by offering offenders opportunities for rehabilitation, access to jobs, and to reenter their communities. Please Contact Gov. Jerry Brown right away and tell him and tell him to sign SB 649. This historic drug sentencing reform bill allows counties to significantly reduce incarceration costs by giving local prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level, nonviolent drug offenses as misdemeanors…
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