CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates Policy Priorities for 2022
To advance an equitable health care delivery system, CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates commits to a policy platform that elevates the mission of California’s community health centers and reduces racial health disparities existing in the communities they serve.
Equitable COVID-19 Response and Recovery
- Guarantee that COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccine distribution recognizes the higher burden of the disease in disproportionately impacted communities – including Black, Asian and Pacific Islander, Indigenous and Latinx persons – and places those groups at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery.
- Advocate for federal and state investments in public health, including funding to prepare for and respond to future public health emergencies.
- Continue administrative engagement on the role of CHC in COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccine distribution, including impacts of reimbursement, licensing, and public health orders.
Coverage and Access for All
The pandemic disrupted years of progress and brought to light inequities in access impacting the health of communities at highest risk of COVID-19 exposure, transmission, and death.
- Guarantee every Californian the right to comprehensive health care coverage, regardless of immigration status.
- Support Federal efforts to expand benefits and eligibility in Medicare.
- Maintain current telehealth access, including telephonic care and asynchronous care, to meet the comprehensive health needs of all persons and communities while providing patients and providers with the necessary resources to utilize virtual care by closing the digital divide.
- Ensure the Medi-Cal pharmacy benefits transition (Medi-Cal Rx) causes no harm to community clinics and health centers, the broader safety-net, or the patients they serve by continuing strategies to address Medi-Cal Rx CHC financial and operational challenges.
- Lead in identifying state and federal protections against discriminatory contracting and other manufacturer actions that negatively impact 340B covered entities and their patients.
- Strengthen the behavioral health delivery system through improved provision, integration, and coordination of mental health and substance use disorder services in the primary care setting.
- Support the interests of health centers in the role out of Enhanced Care Management and Community Supports (aka In Lieu of Services) through the Cal AIM implementation process, especially as it relates to adequate payment to providers.
- Seek greater flexibility to allow health services provided outside a health center’s four walls to special patient populations including homeless or farmworkers.
- Stand with consumer advocates to strengthen outreach and enrollment retention systems to support those recently unemployed, uninsured, and experiencing housing insecurities, in accessing programs of care.
- Advance and protect the Medi-Cal dental benefit while enhancing oral health innovations.
COVID-19 laid bare California’s worsening workforce gaps. COVID-19 is taking a toll on the mental and physical well-being of care teams and impacts workforce pipeline that further undermine health and economic stability of Black, immigrant, and rural communities.
- Work with state and federal partners, including HRSA Bureau of Health Workforce, to counter the shortage of healthcare providers and promote a workforce reflecting patients’ diverse race and ethnicity, culture, and language by securing funding for training, loan repayment and other innovative programs to support allied, primary care, and behavioral health professionals.
- Maintain behavioral health workforce post pandemic, through continuation of ASW and AMFT flexibilities.
- Improve provider licensing to support the next generation of providers.
- Guarantee a diverse health center workforce are centerpieces of the new Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) Policy Council, CalMedForce Advisory Council, and CalHealthCares Advisory Council.
- Continue administrative engagement to increase utilization of Community Health Workers (CHW), Doula, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT), and Nurse Practitioners.
- Explore opportunities to expand apprenticeship, community college, and other occupational advancement programs for allied health workforce, including medical assistants and community health workers.
Health Center Viability that Values Community, Recognizes Racial Disparities, and Addresses Social Determinants
Health centers are facing a perilous fiscal future that undermines COVID-19 response and will stifle equitable economic recovery and increase health gaps across California communities.
- Support federal funding that guarantees the viability of community clinics and health centers.
- Strive for payment modernization that recognizes the role of every care team member, allows health centers to provide culturally and linguistically competent care, and addresses social determinants of health.
- Advocate for equitable and transparent reimbursement policies and the application of those policies in a standardized and timely fashion.
- Improve the quality and delivery of care by promoting healthcare innovations that center on Value-based Payment and shared savings programs.
- Continue to streamline health center licensing processes, including reducing barriers to infrastructure expansion efforts, such as building code regulations.
This pandemic, as well as climate change, has worsened long standing racial inequities in housing, transportation, food access and other social determinants of health. Intentional policy efforts will be needed to right these wrongs and health centers must empower their patients while guaranteeing they are at the center of solutions.
- Promote policies that recognize racism as a public health crisis.
- Support programs and policies that promote data collection, data disaggregation, and build capacity to measure and address health disparities and inequities.
- Guarantee legislation that advances racial equity education, food access, housing, and homelessness services
- Address public health disparities, including access to reproductive health and family planning services.
Climate Change Resiliency
Climate change is real. Climate change is here. Extreme weather conditions, lengthening fire season, and worsening air quality are symptoms impacting our health centers and patients that we must recognize, address, and create actionable strategies around.
- Support climate mitigation legislation with the knowledge that climate health is necessary for physical health
- Prepare communities to be resilient in the face of increasing impacts of climate change – wildfires and extreme heat events - and support equitable distribution of state and federal resources to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
- Bring attention to CHC insurance and capital improvement needs, including weatherization/hardening, which guarantees CHCs can continue as leaders in health for communities at greatest risk to climate change impacts.
- Publicize to CDPH and other state agencies on the role of CHC in emergency management and response, seeking to elevate the role of CHC in climate change prevention and impact.