With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increasing in the state due to a contagious variant of the virus, we are reminded the pandemic is not yet behind us. The road to recovery from the pandemic as well as the economic recession will be long for California children, families, and individuals. And the effects of the past year-plus will continue to be felt, particularly on our mental health and well-being.
Accessing health care, food assistance, transportation, and helping Californians pay for other basic necessities as they build job skills and find stable work — this is the role of health and human services. The Budget Center analyzes spending and related policies on health and human services, highlighting areas where greater public investment is critical as well as ways to boost access to connect people to these essential supports.
Millions of California seniors and people with disabilities turn to Medi-Cal — known federally as Medicaid — for essential health care because ableist, ageist, racist, and classist policies and practices have blocked them from access to jobs, income, and wealth that can provide health coverage throughout their lifetimes. These Californians face further discrimination due to an asset test in Medi-Cal that unfairly applies only to people age 65 or older or who have a disability.
Over one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, confirmed cases and hospitalizations are declining and more Californians are getting vaccinated. While these are positive developments, state leaders must invest in communities that have been historically underserved and have been most impacted by the pandemic. Long-standing state and federal policy choices that do not value communities of color have compromised people’s ability to be healthy before and during the pandemic.
SACRAMENTO — A new report by the California Budget & Policy Center highlights how racist policies and practices have led to disproportionate COVID-19 infection and death rates for Californians of color, and why state policymakers must declare racism a public health crisis to advance health equity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the depths and reach of racism on the health of children, families, and individuals, with communities of color in California experiencing higher rates of illness, death, and overall hardship due to the virus. This devastation must be the catalyst for California policymakers to acknowledge that racism has caused lasting and negative impacts on communities of color. While some local policymakers in California have declared racism as a public health crisis, there has not been a declaration at the state level. This Report provides a high level overview on how health inequities are a direct consequence of historic and ongoing racism.