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Equity in Access

All people deserve to be healthy and experience wellness. And all Californians should be able to receive the health benefits and services they need to live healthy lives. We believe that health care is a human right. While California has made significant progress in expanding quality, affordable health care coverage and access, we recognize that due to systemic racism, persistent health disparities remain for people of color. Therefore, we center racial justice in our work as we work toward high-quality universal health care that expands the ability of all Californians, especially people of color, to obtain necessary health care and related services.

Our Equity in Access portfolio champions health care coverage and access for all and defends the rights of immigrants to enjoy access to health services, coverage and other benefits. All people, regardless of immigration status, deserve access to public benefits. Our portfolio also supports the rights of women to access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services, with an emphasis on early intervention for Black women in particular, and women of color generally.

We will support:

Universal coverage and access to care. All Californians should have the ability to see a medical provider when and how they need to. But there are currently many barriers in place that make it difficult for people of color and immigrants to access needed high-quality health care. And universal coverage means more than seeing a doctor once a year. It means having the access to comprehensive services for staying healthy, such as oral and behavioral health services, as well as having medical providers close by — whether in person or via telemedicine — and the means to get to them.  We are one of the -few funders in the country investing in oral health care for low-income adults and seniors, despite the critical importance of oral health to overall physical well-being. Finally, people without health insurance need to know their options for getting coverage, and how to use their insurance once they’re enrolled. That’s why we invest in organizations that reach out to communities to both educate and help eligible people sign up for health insurance, help patients retain coverage from year to year, and facilitate full use of benefits.

System transformation. To realize our vision, we will have to help transform the health care system. But what does transforming the health care system require? It requires designing and implementing new models of health care that take a whole-person view while integrating the patients’ clinical and social needs. This also includes intentionally allocating resources and interventions to improve health and wellness for Black, Brown, and indigenous communities that are due justice for past systemic harm. Transforming the health care system also means improving the programs currently in place, such as making Medi-Cal and Covered California easier to access for those who need it. Transformation also requires reimagining how direct service providers collaborate and partner to better meet the needs of community residents . Government health coverage programs, community-based organizations and safety-net health care providers all need to work better together to improve health and equity for vulnerable populations.

Priority populations. We want to overturn decades of injustice so that communities too long ignored receive both the health care and social services they need. And we want to see communities of color, immigrants, and low-income communities treated with respect and dignity by all governmental and private institutions, including health care institutions.

Because California is a border state and home to the highest number of immigrants, it is important that we pay attention to immigrants’ needs. We’re determined to champion the rights of immigrants. That means supporting organizations that are working to advance and defend immigrant rights, beating back deportation efforts, helping to counter the surge in negative narratives about immigrants, and challenging the rise in racially charged attacks and threats against immigrants.

In this portfolio, we also support the rights of women to access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services, which have been under intense attack during the past few years.  In particular, we strive to ensure that women of color have access to the care they need. For example, Black women in particular face disparities in access and particularly sobering statistics, being diagnosed with HIV 14 times the rate among white women and almost five times the rate among Latinas. Over the past four years, we have invested over $7 million to educate Black women and help reduce transmission rates of HIV, AIDS and STIs. Learn more about our women of color/HIV/AIDS/STIs health initiative.

Portfolio Priorities In the News

Each week, we collect news relating to each of our four portfolios. Read on to learn more.

Earl Lui

Earl Lui is a program director at The California Wellness Foundation where he currently manages grantmaking related to the Equity in Access portfolio.

Woman smiles at camera

Jennifer Wright is program officer for Cal Wellness’ Equity in Access portfolio.

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