Access to Health Care for All Californians An Equity Issue for People to Live Healthy, Productive Lives
Access to health care services is vital for everyone to live healthy, productive lives. It provides the opportunity for people to receive health services when needed and take proactive, preventive steps in maintaining a good quality of life. Advancement Project California believes that access to health care is a basic human right, regardless of race, immigration status, or income.
Having access to care leads to:
- Improved health outcomes for individuals and families;
- Decreased burdens on safety-net providers (emergency rooms and clinics); and
- An overall healthier workforce.
Access to care is particularly important for low-income communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by poorer health outcomes (infant mortality, diabetes, cardiovascular disease), while also facing an inequitable distribution of health-promoting resources – hospital/clinics, healthy food outlets, adequate transportation options, employment opportunities – in their neighborhoods.
In light of the new Congress and Administration, the Health Equity program has redirected its policy focus to respond to the looming threat of an Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal that will leave five million Californians at risk of losing health care coverage. In collaboration with community members, advocates and elected officials, we will continue our fight for #Health4All and push for policies and public investments that ensure that health care plans in California:
- 1) Preserve the number of people with coverage to date and further decrease the number of Californians without health insurance
- 2) Do not discriminate against individual’s health condition, age, gender, race, sexuality, or immigration status in any eligibility or pricing decisions;
- 3) Protect people with pre-existing health conditions at all times from discrimination by insurers
- 4) Provide coverage that is comprehensive in scope and includes a wide range of medical events, particularly preventive health care services;
- 5) Establish premiums and cost sharing – such as deductibles and copays – that are affordable to those enrolled in Covered California, and;
- 6) Invest in a robust safety net system that provides affordable, comprehensive health coverage for all low-income families.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created an exciting opportunity to minimize barriers to insurance coverage and health services, but many people are still left behind. In particular, undocumented immigrants are explicitly excluded from receiving the benefits through ACA, which can also negatively impact family members with a legal status.
With our partners we build access to timely, affordable, and high-quality health care for all Californians through policy and systems efforts that target:
- The equitable distribution of health care resources, particularly for those in low-income communities; and
- A robust safety-net system that adequately supports those ineligible or struggling to afford health coverage and services.
We partner with statewide advocates and participate in key coalitions to leverage our expertise. We will lift up the needs of underserved and under-resourced communities in future health policy and planning processes.
California continues to be a leader in providing health coverage. In 2015, legislation was passed that allocated funding to expand Medi-Cal (California’s insurance program for low-income residents) coverage to undocumented immigrants under 19 years of age. The recent passage of SB10 will authorize all adults, regardless of immigration status to purchase health insurance though Covered California, the state health exchange.
Riding the current wave of successful health care victories, there is work to be done to address full health care expansion and utilization. Some key demands include:
- Expand Medi-Cal coverage to adults, regardless of immigration status
- Increase utilization and meet the demand of new health care consumers
- Identify innovative ways to improve services to those struggling to afford health care
Working with community members, advocates, and elected officials the Health Equity program is committed to completing the job of achieving #Health4All. This will establish a new ‘culture of health’ where everyone has access to health care resources that are affordable and utilized effectively to improve health outcomes.