Reflecting On the Past Year

What a difference a year makes!

Flickr: Arthur Chapman

April 17th marks my one year anniversary as Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. As I reflect on the past 365 days, I am proud of how much we have accomplished. I am also awed by how much there is to do to improve the health of Latinos in California. Additionally, I’m humbled by all of the passion for health equity we have encountered across our great state.

For many of us, our work is much bigger than ourselves—it is about righting structural and historical wrongs. The work is also very personal. Diabetes, stroke, cancer are not abstract concepts for us, but rather, we all have family members and close friends who currently suffer from or have died because of preventable diseases. When talking about diabetes, many of us see the faces and hear the voices of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. This personal stake in preventing chronic diseases that are mostly due to social conditions, drives our work. 

Over the past year LCHC staff has been very strategic in building our capacity to connect with Latino-serving organizations across California. While we have enjoyed reconnecting with our friends in the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, and San Diego, we also appreciate new partnerships that we are forging in Sonoma-Napa, the Central Coast, the Inland Empire, Imperial Valley, and the Far North. As we travel across the state, we feel honored that people working locally to improve Latino health are sharing their stories with us as well as helping us to refine our policy agenda in Sacramento. We draw our strength and resolve in the Capitol to continue to advocate for health from the voices we hear across our great state.

LCHC’s work has centered around two priorities: 1) increasing health care access for all Californians, regardless of immigration status, and 2) increasing health equity and health justice so that one’s zip code will not determine how long they will live. Under the umbrella of these two goals, LCHC’s policy agenda for the year includes the following priorities:

  • SB 1000 (Monning) Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Safety Warning – Proposes a warning label on sugar sweetened beverages to advise consumers on how the excessive consumption of sugar water can lead to chronic disease, especially diabetes.
  • SB 1005 (Lara) Health Care for All – Proposes health care access for all, regardless of immigration status. Covered California and the Medi-Cal expansion get us only part way to our goal of health care access for all Californians. We need to finish the job.
  • SB 972 (Torres) Covered California Board – would expand the Covered California Exchange Board from five to seven members to increase the diversity of expertise on the board.
  • AB 2102 (Ting) Health Care Workforce Data Collection – will help to collect demographic information for the allied health professions.  This will help ensure that as a more diverse consumer population becomes eligible for health care, a culturally and linguistically appropriate workforce is there to serve.

We are also working closely on other bills related to sentencing reform that helps to keep families united, and also to ensure that CalWorks and CalFresh are available for all lawfully present Californians. 

While we work hard to help advance an agenda that promotes Latino health, we know we’re not alone. We have a strong Board that advises us and helps bring opportunities to the organization. We also work closely with partners who share our passion and are consistently and authentically engaged in improving health in vulnerable communities across California. 

In this work, I am also quite indebted to the staff here at LCHC who make sure that our communications infrastructure is robust,  that we have a meaningful policy presence in the Capitol and that our statewide networks continue to grow. 

Overall, the past year has been an exciting and eventful one, full of change and growth. Looking forward, I believe the next will be even better.

Thank you for your support and partnership,