PHI Statement on CA Legislature’s Historic Commitment to Health Equity and Racial Justice Innovation
Statement from Mary A. Pittman, CEO and President, Public Health Institute
“A legacy of structural racism and underinvestment in communities has led to a disproportionate burden of largely preventable, pre-existing health, economic and other inequities in low-income and communities of color in California. That’s why the Public Health Institute joined partners to call for the creation of, and investment in, a California Health Equity and Racial Justice fund. The Fund is our opportunity—our imperative—to make health equity and racial justice a part of California’s DNA.
“Today the California legislature committed to that vision, by dedicating $100m of its budget to an ongoing health disparities grant program. The Health Equity and Racial Innovation initiative would support trusted community partners—including community based organizations, clinics and tribes—to address health disparities where they live.
“While historic, this investment represents just a fraction of the funding truly necessary to redress and re-vision the inequities baked into our current system. In partnership with communities who have spent generations under-resourced and denied the ability to determine their own health and future, we will keep advocating for more.
“We support the need for grants to address health disparities, and we look forward to working with the Office of Health Equity to ensure communities also have the flexibility and power to address the root causes of disparities—like housing, food and job security and safe communities—that they identify as critical in their neighborhoods and that are inextricably linked to health outcomes.
“We have learned through our work leading Together Toward Health, the state’s critical vaccine equity engagement initiative, that supporting community wisdom, networks and trusted messengers is the best way to build trust and strengthen health in communities that have been historically failed by our systems. The additional inclusion of an annual $15m for the creation of a Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund is a landmark opportunity to bolster power and support for one of California’s most overlooked, highest impacted and least served communities.
“We thank in particular, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, who partnered with us to champion the fund’s initial architecture in AB1038 (which passed the Assembly floor today, with a resounding 73-2 bipartisan show of support), along with Senate and Assembly leadership and budget leaders, who clearly committed to this dedicated funding and approach. We urge Governor Newsom to make the same commitment, by including this historic initial investment in health equity and racial justice in California’s final budget.”
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