Thursday, July 5, 2007

Having Our Say

As efforts to reform California's healthcare system move along, communities of color have recognized the need to ensure their interests are considered during this critical debate. Assemblymember Nunez and Senator Perata recently merged their plans, with many positive results for all California residents, including immigrants and communities of color. This new version of the proposals previously put forward by Democratic leaders does not include an individual mandate that forces California residents to have health insurance (which would be a real problem if insurance is unaffordable or has major gaps in coverage), limits out of pocket costs to 5% of income - particularly important for low wage workers, and provides health coverage to all children up to 300% of the poverty level. You can find full details about this proposal at Health Access' website,

Despite these positive developments, communities of color still have important issues to worry about. Minority and immigrant workers are over-represented in low-wage jobs, tend to have the highest levels of uninsurance among all populations, and face challenges in accessing quality preventative and ongoing care. It's critical that the voices of these communities are at the table while legislative leaders negotiate our state's healthcare future. After all, California is a majority minority state, and the well-being of our communities of color and families is critical for the long-term viability of our state. So, recognizing this need, community of color organizations and groups have come together to represent the needs of minority communities - in Sacramento, in the media, and in the broader debate that will have huge repercussions for our families. This coalition - dubbed Having Our Say - represents about thirty plus organizations across the state who serve, represent, or otherwise care about the needs of communities of color. It's convened by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Latino Issues Forum. So far, the coalition has brought together community and advocacy groups across the state to share info and strategize about healthcare reform; met with legislative leaders to share our concerns and priorities for communities of color; and hooked into broader healthcare reform advocacy efforts through coalitions such as the It's Our Healthcare campaign led by consumer groups and unions.

The next few months are a critical time in the healthcare reform debate. We urge you to get involved with the Having Our Say Coalition so our communities across the state are well-represented and play a role in any final decisions around our state's healthcare system. Please send an email to to join the Having Our Say listserv and access related resources.

Also, we'll be posting more updates to keep you informed about the discussions around healthcare reform. You can also take a look at the blog updated by Health Access at for daily updates on state healthcare issues.

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