California is One Step Closer to Achieving #Health4All

California is One Step Closer to Achieving #Health4All

On June 10, 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 10, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D – Bell Gardens), which would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance through Covered California. In my short time as a Health Equity Fellow, I have seen health reforms passed, such as SB 4, also authored by Sen. Lara, which expanded access to Medi-Cal, our state’s health insurance program for limited income families, to undocumented children under the age of 19. I have also seen initiatives fail, including Sen. Lara’s Senate Bill 1005, which sought to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented adults. This fellowship provided me a crash course in advocacy at the state level…
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Not-for-Profit Hospitals Must Join the Fight Against Climate Change

Not-for-Profit Hospitals Must Join the Fight Against Climate Change

At first glance, the headline above may seem puzzling. What do hospitals have to do with climate change? Let me explain. California’s Central Valley contains six of the 10 most polluted cities, according the American Lung Association. Sadly, Orlando (pictured above) is just one of the many residents of the Valley who suffers from asthma that is largely caused or worsened by the poor air quality. Orlando uses a nebulizer, a device that administers medication in the form of a mist, to treat his asthma during school recesses. In the Fresno Unified School District, almost one in five students have asthma. In response to this epidemic, Kaiser Permanente donated $20,000…
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Big Sugar Created an Epidemic – Now They Should Pay for a Solution

Big Sugar Created an Epidemic – Now They Should Pay for a Solution

Growing up, sugary drinks were a part of my daily school lunch and home life as well. I remember my mom would give me a couple of dollars and send me to the corner store to buy 2-liter bottles of soda if we ran out. Because it was also the cheaper alternative growing up, I drank sugary drinks more often than I drank water. I couldn’t turn on the television without seeing commercials for sugary drinks, not only on English language channels, but Filipino and Spanish channels as well. Even more so today, the soda industry focuses much of its efforts and money marketing to communities of color and especially…
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#GetCovered — Covered California Enrollment Ends January 31st!

#GetCovered — Covered California Enrollment Ends January 31st!

Covered California, our state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, can now share stories of Californians who have benefited from health coverage, including Sarah from Los Angeles, who needed emergency brain surgery a month after enrolling. Without insurance, her medical bills would have been over $2 million, but thanks to her health coverage, her out-of-pocket expenses for surgery and rehabilitation only totaled $7,000. Sarah is one of thousands of California patients who benefitted from Covered California and received health care – from cancer treatments to organ transplants – in her time of need. To help make sure Californians know about these opportunities,  a Covered California enrollment drive took place…
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How Oscar’s Tech-savvy Approach to Health Can Impact Uninsured Young People of Color

How Oscar’s Tech-savvy Approach to Health Can Impact Uninsured Young People of Color

  The future of our health care relies on the enrollment of healthy millennials – “young invincibles” like myself, between the ages of 18-34, who go without health coverage and have never had a serious health issue. Young invincibles constitute over a third of the 22 million people in our country who still lack health insurance even though they’re eligible under the Affordable Care Act (this excludes non-citizen immigrants, who aren’t eligible for ACA coverage, as well as low-income adults in states that did not expand Medicaid). Research suggests that young people are both less likely to have employer-sponsored insurance and less likely to buy coverage on their own because…
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Covered California Round 3: Bridging the Gap for Black and Latino Californians to #GetCovered

Covered California Round 3: Bridging the Gap for Black and Latino Californians to #GetCovered

November 1 marked the beginning of the third open enrollment period for Covered California, our state’s health insurance exchange. It’s hard to believe that only two years ago, I was a Certified Enrollment Counselor in National City, just south of San Diego. The job started as a way to help pay for graduate school, yet it was one of the most impactful professional experiences I’ve ever had. I vividly remember one client, a woman who endured with me through the infamous glitches and website crashes during the first enrollment period. After a few hours and a trip to Kentucky Fried Chicken to pass the time while we waited for the…
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3 Ways to Put the “Community” Back Into Community Benefit in the Central Valley

3 Ways to Put the “Community” Back Into Community Benefit in the Central Valley

“How many people here know what community benefit is?” asked Sandra Celedon-Castro, Hub Manager of Fresno Building Healthy Communities (BHC). Only a few raise their hands in a room of almost 40 Central Valley residents and community advocates who gathered to attend a community forum hosted by The Greenlining Institute, Fresno BHC, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF), to learn about community benefit – investments not-for-profit hospitals provide towards improving the holistic health and well-being of the communities they serve. Not-for-profit hospitals provide these services and resources to the community in exchange for billions of dollars in tax breaks and exemptions every year. As we began the day,…
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The Pope Listened to Sophie Cruz – Congress Should Too!

The Pope Listened to Sophie Cruz – Congress Should Too!

Two weeks ago, Catholics and Pope Francis-enthusiasts throughout the country buzzed with excitement around the Pope’s visit to the United States. During his parade in Washington, D.C. in the famous “Popemobile,” one little girl stood out in the crowd. Five year old Sophie Cruz slipped through the barricades, but before security could escort her away, the Pope motioned her over to give her his blessing. Before letting go from his embrace, she gave him a letter. Sophie traveled with her family from Los Angeles with a mission to give the Pope her letter, writing, “Pope Francis I want to tell you that my heart is sad. And I would like…
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