Available for Interviews: Covered California Enrollment Stats Expected This Week

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)
Carla Saporta, Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director, 503-347-6893 (cell)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA – Greenlining Institute health policy experts will be available for comment when Covered California releases initial enrollment figures, expected this week. Covered California, California’s health benefit exchange created under the federal Affordable Care Act, has generally functioned smoothly and has not had the sorts of serious website problems that afflicted the federal exchange during its first weeks.

Greenlining has been actively advocating to ensure that the new health insurance options created by the ACA are accessible to all of California’s communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, language or income.

“California clearly did the right thing by setting up its own exchange, rather than letting the Feds do it for us,” said Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director Carla Saporta. “We’re looking forward to seeing this first snapshot of enrollment, but everyone should remember that this is just the start of a process that will continue until March 31.” Saporta noted that some elements of the program, including a robust system of in-person, one-on-one assistance, are still ramping up.

In its 2011 report, iHealth: How to Ensure the Health Benefit Exchange Reaches all Californians, Greenlining laid out a series of recommendations for how Covered California could effectively reach all Californians. Covered California adopted most of these recommendations and has made progress toward implementing many of them.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org

Bank Regulators’ Proposed Diversity Standards Short on Specifics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

WASHINGTON – Proposed joint standards just released by six federal agencies for assessing the diversity practices of the financial institutions they regulate contain solid language regarding best practices, but are disappointingly short on specifics, policy experts at The Greenlining Institute said today.

The standards, proposed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, were required by section 342 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act. The law created Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion in 20 financial regulatory agencies and tasked them with “assessing the diversity policies and practices of entities regulated” by the agencies.

“If we learned anything from the financial crisis, it’s that communities of color are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine of the financial system, and we are glad to see regulators beginning to tackle diversity issues,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Sasha Werblin. “But while this document contains a lot of positive language, it’s very general, with no real standards or metrics to assess progress.”

The draft standards allow financial institutions to do a self-assessment of diversity practices, but do not require any reporting to the public or to the OMWIs.

Werblin noted that effective models for promoting diversity among regulated businesses, without coercion or quotas, already exist. In California, for example, both the Public Utilities Commission and Department of Insurance have programs under which regulated firms report the degree to which they contract with firms owned by women, minorities or disabled veterans.

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished simply with a bit of sunlight and public reporting of information,” Werblin said. Greenlining will be filing detailed comments with specific suggestions for bolstering these standards, and plans to discuss the proposal with regulators and members of Congress in a series of meetings in Washington in mid-November.

“Voluntary actions have been the status quo for a century, and they’ve gotten us a financial sector that’s overwhelmingly white and male,” commented Greenlining Executive Director Orson Aguilar.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org

Bank Settlement Will Help Californians, Greenlining Institute Says

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CA A.G. Harris Helped Strengthen Deal; Follow-Through Will Be Key to Ensuring Help Reaches Struggling Families

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA – The “robo-signing” settlement announced today represents real help for California homeowners who suffered due to misdeeds by loan servicers and other financial institutions, but more must still be done to help struggling families and stabilize the housing market, policy experts at The Greenlining Institute said today.

 

“We’re pleased that California homeowners facing foreclosure and those who have lost homes will get meaningful help without the banks getting a complete get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar. “Kamala Harris deserves applause for hanging tough to make sure Californians get real relief and that the enforcement mechanisms have teeth.”

California homeowners are expected to get up to $18 billion in relief, of which $12 billion will be in principal reduction, with priority going to hardest-hit regions.

“We applaud the incentives for principal reduction and the relief for struggling homeowners not covered by the administration’s just-announced housing plan,” Aguilar added. “This deal is a first step toward meaningful relief for distressed homeowners, and we look forward to more.

“It will be crucial to make sure this assistance gets to those who need it,” Aguilar said. “There must be an aggressive outreach strategy to ensure that distressed homeowners know about these options, and it needs to include non-traditional outreach through organizations like housing counseling agencies, community development corporations, nonprofits , churches and the ethnic media.”

The agreement between the Department of Justice, state attorneys general and banks stems from disclosure of widespread mishandling of foreclosure processing, revealed in 2010.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute greenlining.org

 

Banks and Minority-Owned Businesses: New Report to Be Released at 2/24 Event in S.F.

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

SAN FRANCISCO – The Greenlining Institute will release its first annual report on how California’s major banks contract with minority business enterprises at a special event in San Francisco Feb. 24. The presentation will be followed by an expert panel discussion featuring representatives from banking, government, trade associations, and small business, focusing on successful supplier diversity strategies and how to expand opportunities for diverse businesses.

While others have examined broad diversity issues in the banking sector, Greenlining is the first to zero in on the industry’s use of diverse contractors for goods and services, and to focus specifically on banks with a major presence in California.

WHAT:  Banking on Supplier Diversity: Metrics and Methods that Work, a presentation of Greenlining’s first annual report on banking industry supplier diversity

WHO: Speakers will include —

  • Jacqueline Rosa, Managing Director, Global Head of Supplier Diversity, JPMorgan Chase
  • Steve Thomas, Managing Director, CastleOak Securities, L.P.
  • Carlotta Taube, Minority and Women Business Outreach Specialist, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Dennis Huang, Executive Director, Asian Business Association
  • Bernida Reagan, Director of Community and Client Relations, Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services
  • Orson Aguilar, Executive Director, The Greenlining Institute
  • Danielle Beavers, Economic Equity Program Manager, The Greenlining Institute
  • Sasha Werblin, Economic Equity Director, The Greenlining Institute

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, 9 a.m. – noon

WHERE:  Public Policy Institute of California, 500 Washington St., San Francisco, CA 94111

Journalists wishing to attend should RSVP to Bruce Mirken, brucem@greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org

Banks Need More Diverse Boards, Management, New Report Finds

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

Most Boards Overwhelmingly White and Male; Citi Most Diverse

Major bank boards of directors remain overwhelmingly white and male, reports The Greenlining Institute in its latest study of bank board diversity, being released Thursday morning. Focused on nine major institutions with a major California presence, Greenlining found that Citi’s board was most diverse, while eight of nine boards were at least 80 percent white and 80 percent male. Five banks had zero Latino representation, four had no Asian Americans, and two had no African Americans.
Continue reading “Banks Need More Diverse Boards, Management, New Report Finds”

Bill Lets Taxpayers Know If Tax-Exempt Hospitals Earn Their Tax Breaks

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO – Inspired in part by a report issued last year by The Greenlining Institute, Assembly members  Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) have renewed their effort to ensure that the public knows how not-for-profit hospitals are earning their tax-exempt status. Assembly Bill 503, as just amended by the authors, provides greatly increased transparency and accountability for hospital “community benefit” spending.

The bill is co-sponsored by The Greenlining Institute, California Nurses Association, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

“These hospitals get a massive tax break for operating for the benefit of the community, but today it’s nearly impossible to get a true picture of whether they’re spending these community benefit dollars in ways that truly help communities in need,” said Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director Carla Saporta. “AB 503 will help make sure we know whether these hospitals are earning their tax exemption, give communities a voice in the process, and help our health care system reflect the needs of the 21st century.”

The bill:

  • Creates transparency by directing the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to develop a standardized format for community health plans and standardized methodology for estimating the economic value of community benefits. It also requires that community health needs assessments and community benefit plans be posted online.
  • Brings the community into the process of developing community health needs assessments, requiring hospitals to obtain comments from local health care providers, nurses, patients, community groups and health-related organizations and to include at least one member from an underserved or vulnerable population on their community benefit planning committees.
  • Stipulates that 90 percent of available community benefit moneys be “allocated to charity care and projects that improve community health for underserved and vulnerable populations,” and that at least 25 percent be “be allocated to community building activities geographically located within underserved and vulnerable populations.” Community building activities address the root causes of why people get sick where they live and work, including programs such as efforts to improving unhealthy housing conditions for those living with asthma and educating young people about health careers.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org

Bill to Boost Diverse Small Businesses Has 1st Hearing Tuesday

AB 962 Would Track Major Hospitals’ Contracting with Businesses Owned by Women, People of Color, Veterans and LGBTs

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO — On Tuesday, April 2 the Assembly Health Committee will consider AB 962, introduced by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) and coauthored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). The measure would use reporting and transparency to encourage California hospitals – a $230 billion industry in the state – to boost their contracting with businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and LGBT people. The measure, sponsored by The Greenlining Institute, is modeled on a successful program overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission, which over three decades has sparked massive increases in contracting with Minority Business Enterprises by California’s regulated utilities, as well as a similarly successful program that was administered by the Department of Insurance.

WHAT: Assembly Health Committee hearing on AB 962

WHO: Assemblymember Autumn Burke, Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director Anthony Galace, members of the committee

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 4202

WHEN: Tuesday, April 2, 1:30 p.m.

For further background on the bill, see Anthony Galace’s recent blog post.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Bill to Bring More Climate Investments to Disadvantaged Communities Passes 1st Senate Hurdle

Bill to Bring More Climate Investments to Disadvantaged Communities Passes 1st Senate Hurdle

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)
Isabel Alegría, Public Advocates, 510-541-5428 (cell), ialegria@publicadvocates.org
Bill Magavern, Coalition for Clean Air, 916-214-0065
Parin Shah, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, 415-286-7850 (cell), parin@apen4ej.org
Laura Muraida, SCOPE, 323-789-7920, lmuraida@scopela.org

SACRAMENTO – Today the Senate Environmental Quality Committee passed AB 1550 (Gomez), designed to ensure that the benefits of California’s climate change policies reach the communities and households needing them most. The measure would require a minimum of 25 percent of proceeds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to be invested in projects located directly within disadvantaged communities, while an additional 20 percent would go to projects that benefit low income households regardless of their location within California.

Advocates for clean air and underserved communities hailed the bill’s steady progress, noting that under AB 1550, climate investments in disadvantaged communities will match the percentage of the state’s population living in those communities, while making sure benefits also reach low-income Californians throughout the state.

Public Advocates Staff Attorney Chelsea Tu said, “With the passage of AB 1550 out of this committee, California has taken another step toward delivering on its promise to bring health and economic benefits to low-income and disadvantaged families and communities from the state’s cap-and-trade revenues.”

SCOPE Research Director Laura Muraida commented, “Today marks a significant step forward as we continue working to shape equitable climate policy that benefits the communities hardest hit by pollution, poverty and disinvestment.”

“Assemblymember Gomez’s bill will help California communities that have been disproportionately impacted by air pollution, poverty and climate change,” said Fabiola Lao, Deputy Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air. “It will help bring clean energy and clean transportation services, such as electric buses, to these communities.”

“We applaud Assemblymember Gomez’s leadership and commitment to ameliorating the disproportionate amount of pollution and poverty that communities across the state have faced for decades,” said Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “AB 1550 expands opportunities for sorely needed investment and reaffirms the strength and value of CalEnviroScreen, a tool created by environmental justice communities, as the state’s tool for addressing historic disparities.”

“California’s climate policies have already brought real benefits to neighborhoods hit by the worst effects of pollution and poverty, but we can and must do better,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez. “AB 1550 takes us a major step in the right direction.”

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Bill to Control Health Insurance Rates Called Urgent for Small Business

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

Greenlining Institute Joins Call for Passage of AB 52

SACRAMENTO – Health policy experts from The Greenlining Institute today joined Assemblymembers Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to call for the passage of legislation to protect consumers and businesses by allowing the state insurance commissioner to reject excessive health insurance rate increases.

Continue reading “Bill to Control Health Insurance Rates Called Urgent for Small Business”

Bill to Ensure Diversity in California Insurance Has Senate Hearing Today

SB 534 Would Require California’s Largest Insurers to Report Their Supplier Diversity and Governing Board Diversity

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022 (office), 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO – This afternoon the Senate Insurance Committee will consider legislation to promote diversity in California’s insurance industry, SB 534, introduced by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). The measure, also strongly supported by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and The Greenlining Institute, would require the largest players in the state’s $310 billion insurance industry to report on their level of contracting with businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans and LGBT individuals. It would also require insurers to report on the diversity of their governing boards and set goals for supplier and board diversity. The measure is modeled on a number of prior, highly successful diversity initiatives based on reporting and transparency.

WHAT: Senate Insurance Committee hearing on SB 534

WHO: Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Department of Insurance Senior Deputy Commissioner and Legislative Director Michael Martinez; President/CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. and Department of Insurance Diversity Task Force member Linda Akutagawa; Golden Gate Business Association board member and Department of Insurance Diversity Task Force LGBT representative Jay Greene; Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director Anthony Galace; members of the committee

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 112

WHEN: Wednesday, April 10, 1:30 p.m.

For further background on the bill, see Anthony Galace’s blog post.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining