State Budget Protects Many Key Health Services, But Only for Now

August 19, 2020

We are proud of how Californians have come together during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve rallied to protect one another, take care of our families and neighbors, and show appreciation for our essential workers. However, challenges remain, and we may feel them for years to come.

The economic costs of fighting Covid-19 have left California with a budget deficit of about $54 billion. That’s like being overdrawn at the bank – and when rent and bills are due, you have to make some hard choices. This is the position our state is in now, and our governor has made drastic cuts to public health care funding – at the time when we need it the most. 
In June, Governor Newsom signed a state budget that cut many essential services but was a less painful version of a budget we saw in May. The earlier version of the budget would have eliminated key resources for our most vulnerable populations, denied coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors, and cut benefits and access to health providers for millions more on Medi-Cal. So, while some crucial benefits are safe (for now), there have still been cuts that affect many Californians.

The Deepest Cuts
⦁    The budget delays the expansion of Med-Cal, which would have covered all low-income seniors in Medi-Cal, regardless of immigration status. In the middle of a public health crisis, our state should be covering more people, especially seniors, as they are most at risk for Covid-19. 

⦁    California’s budget reduces funding for Covered California assistance. This could make it more expensive for those buying health coverage through the insurance exchange and make it more difficult for families to get the care they need.


A Few Victories
Some of the proposed budget cuts that would have jeopardized the health of millions were reduced or avoided:

⦁    The budget preserved medically necessary benefits for millions of adults with Medi-Cal coverage, including vision, audiology, podiatry, and some dental services. 

⦁    The new deal spared Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) and Multipurpose Senior Services Programs (MSSP) that help keep seniors and adults with disabilities independent and in their own homes and out of institutionalized care where COVID-19 deaths have been more prevalent. 

⦁    For now, health providers’ compensation is protected, enabling them to continue to serve patients in our communities.

 

How We Continue to Fight for What’s Right

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Our state needs both federal funds and new state revenues to continue essential services such as education and health care coverage for millions. In partnership with other health clinics across the state, AltaMed has persistently advocated for increased federal funding. We continue to ask state and elected officials to put our communities’ health first by highlighting the negative impacts these cuts have on patients, their families, and the entire California economy.

Closer to home, we are working on expanding the use of telehealth visits to help those who may not be able to see a doctor in person. And we are always working to promote better health, serving our communities with culturally sensitive care and other important resources. 

 

How You Can Help

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Even if these problems seem big and abstract, the best thing you can do is VOTE. In every election, every time. The leaders we elect help shape budgets, determine how money is spent, and play a role in keeping the government accountable. If you can’t vote, you can still help us with our advocacy and “get out the vote” efforts. Whether you want to vote or help us advocate, download our My Vote. My Health. app to learn about opportunities to make a difference.

More than ever, we are all in this together. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help our communities grow healthy.
 

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The 2020 Census: Stand Up and Be Counted!

February 25, 2020

2020 is a very important year for all of us and our communities.

For one thing, it’s an election year, and we’ll go to the polls to pick our president and elected representatives. We will also vote on measures that affect housing, the justice system, our schools, and much more. It’s also time for the 2020 Census.

The census is like a selfie of everyone living in the United States – kids, babies, seniors, teens, adults. Regardless of citizenship, everyone counts! If you weren’t here for the last one and don’t know why it’s a big deal – trust us, it is! It only happens every 10 years so here’s everything you need to know about why it matters and how it could affect you.

 

First Things First: Your Information is Protected

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One of the questions we hear most often is, “Is it safe for me to participate?” We understand many people are worried about sharing information about their ethnicity or their country of origin, but we can assure you that you and your information are protected regardless of your race, gender, or citizenship. It is against the law for your census information to be shared or used against you in any way. 

 

Why the Census Matters

Vote matters

Your census answers are used to make decisions that affect our communities. The government uses all the information to plan where to build hospitals, fire departments, schools, and roads. Census data is also used to help draw community boundaries and districts. This may not seem like a big deal, but legislative districts can be redrawn to concentrate political power – giving some people more opportunities at the expense of others. 

Census information is also used for planning federal funding. In California, we get about $115 billion a year for programs like:

  • MediCal
  • Medicare
  • SNAP
  • TANF

The census helps determine how that money is split and where it goes.

If everyone isn’t counted, we could lose billions of dollars for essential local programs, and then we’d have to wait another 10 years to do anything about it.

 

What’s Asked and What’s New

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This year, there will only be nine questions; in previous years, it’s been 10. Questions take about 10 minutes to answer and are about:

  • What kind of household you live in – for example, if it’s a house, apartment, or mobile home
  • If you own your home or are renting
  • The number of people living in your household
  • Their age, race, and gender

Answer every question honestly and do your best to provide complete information. Children under the age of five are often undercounted, so if you’re a parent, make sure you include them.

You can see complete details and questions at the official US Census website.

 

Census Begins March 12

Census forms will be delivered to every home beginning March 12. Your form will contain detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 census online, by phone, or by mail. If you don’t return your form, you will receive three reminders before a census worker will be sent to your home to walk you through the process.

If you receive a visit from anyone claiming to be a census worker, ask to see their ID. It should contain their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may have equipment with the Census Bureau logo. If you refuse to talk to a census worker, they will simply come back, and you could be fined. 

If you would like help filling out your form, you can call (323)531-7741 from March 12 – August 14.

 

The Census is Your Voice 

Census

Participating in the Census is similar to voting: it’s a way to stand up not only for yourself, but your family, and your community. If you don’t participate, we miss opportunities for funding and representation. 

We’re counting on you to be counted and spread the knowledge to those you know. Bookmark this page, email it to friends by clicking on the icon near the title, or get our handy overview document that you can save, print or share. Knowledge is power, and the more of us who are willing to participate, the more powerful we become!

 

Vote and Grow Healthy: Why Your Health, Community, and Future Depends on It

August 14, 2020

You may be wondering, “What does voting have to do with my health?”

In a nutshell, EVERYTHING. Voting is critical to ensuring access to health care and protecting the rights of everyone, including immigrants and the undocumented, women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and other members of society who have been historically marginalized or overlooked.

 

If You Can Vote, Vote in Every Single Election

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Unfortunately, even those who can vote usually only cast their ballots in the big contests, often ignoring local races and ballot measures. Yes, the presidential election has a big impact on our lives (especially this year), but so do all of the other elections. 

For example, in the November election, Californians will vote on a proposition that would increase rent control/rent stabilization protections but cut into the state’s revenue. Whether or not the proposition passes, the outcome affects millions of Californians.

Even elections for city offices and positions on a school board can have a big impact on our daily lives and the health of our communities. So, if you can vote, educate yourself on the choices and participate in every election.

Vote Because Not Everyone Can
Your vote is like a voice, allowing you to support causes and candidates that advance your interests. However, many people in this country don’t have a voice. For example, our children! Voting is a way to help secure the best possible future for generations to come, including access to education, care, and more opportunities.

Immigrants and undocumented individuals cannot vote either and your vote can help improve their lives. Though you may not get the chance to vote directly on matters of citizenship and immigration, the officials you elect can advocate for immigration reform, more humane treatment of undocumented individuals, and stronger protections for immigrants and their families. 

Have a Say Where Your Money Goes
Our tax dollars are used to fund many important public projects, such as improvements to mass transit and roads, protecting our environment, and expanding access to social services. But not all projects benefit everyone, and some can be controversial. Another initiative in this November’s election would fund stem cell research, which conflicts with some people’s religious beliefs, while others believe this research is important for future medical treatments. If you don’t vote, you don’t have any say in where your taxes go.

 

People Worked Hard for You to Have a Voice

Section 2This year, we mark the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights in the United States. Black people have only had the right to vote in America since 1965. Even though these rights have been established with amendments to the Constitution, there are many politicians who are trying to chip away at these rights and make it harder to vote. You can keep voting rights alive by exercising them as often as you can.

 

It’s Safe and It’s Never Been Easier

Section 3Governor Newsom worked with the state legislature to make sure all registered California voters receive a vote-by-mail ballot. His office is working with local leaders, all over the state, to make sure that anyone who wants to, can access safe and secure in-person voting.

Vote by mail ballots will be mailed out on October 5. Voting by mail is easy, safe, and reliable. You can even track your ballot at every step at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov to make sure your vote is counted accurately and on-time.

 

Make Sure Your Registration is Current

In partnership with Vote.org, we have digital resources to help you get registered, check your registration status online, or get election notifications and reminders. These tools are all available at  myvotemyhealth.org/vote. They are convenient, instant, safe, and secure. We always protect your privacy. You can also download the My Vote. My Health. app to learn more about voting and advocacy opportunities. 

To stay on top of the important issues and learn more about how important your vote is, follow our Town Hall YouTube playlist. Each Town Hall features a panel of experts and lively, informative conversations – our latest one features the work we’ve done with the My Vote. My Health. Initiative. Together, we can drive important changes for our communities. Let’s make that difference.