Nothing is more essential than our health. Everybody should have access to good health regardless of race or income. Health care must be responsive to the nation’s growing communities of color, but health care isn’t enough. People also need access to the things that lead to good health such as safe neighborhoods, healthy foods, clean environments and decent jobs.
People of color are both more likely to live in a community with an unhealthy environment and to lack access to health care, making up 74 percent of California’s uninsured.
These inequities have created a serious health gap. For example, Asian and Latina women are far less likely than white women to have mammograms, while African Americans’ rate of preventable hospital admissions for childhood asthma is nearly four times that of whites. Too often, existing policies, programs, and discussions don’t adequately address the specific concerns of communities of color, and leaders often fail to involve diverse groups in shaping policies.
Greenlining brings the voices of communities of color into critical decisions that affect all of our lives and health. Our current efforts include:
- Affordable Care Act – Implementation of national health care reform is well under way. For important information about signing up for coverage, click here. Greenlining strongly supports the Affordable Care Act, which offers the best chance in decades to expand access to care. Our landmark iHealth report helped show the way to making sure that California’s new Health Benefit Exchange (called Covered California) and SHOP Exchange (also part of Covered California), for small businesses, reach all of our communities. We continue to work with the Covered California board to ensure that the new law’s benefits reach all who need them.
- Insurer Accountability – Consumers must be protected from unfair and excessive health insurance rate increases. We have worked closely with other advocates and California’s insurance commissioner to support rate regulation proposals.
- Health Industry Diversity – We support diversity and expanded access to health resources by developing public/private partnerships involving pharmaceutical and biotech firms, insurers, and hospitals through advocacy with California state agencies. We are working to open pathways into health sector careers for boys and men of color.
- Community Benefit – Not-for-profit hospitals get large tax breaks in exchange for working to improve community health. In addition to “charity care” for the uninsured, we believe that this duty can be better achieved through programs and investments that keep low-income and diverse communities healthy to being with. Community benefit needs to be updated to reflect the realities of health care and community health needs in the 21st century.
- Racial Equity in Policymaking – We believe that policymaking should focus on racial equity: the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial or ethnic identity was no longer a determining factor in one’s success. Having an equity, rather than an equality approach, considers the fact that every community has unique needs.