Opinion: California Must Take Action on Chronic Disease Among Children of Color

The upward trend in childhood chronic disease in California is threatening the health of the next generation, and racial disparities in those diseases are stark evidence of the deep impact that racism has on health.

A groundbreaking Senate bill could help the state begin to change course by prioritizing and investing in prevention of childhood chronic illnesses and creating actionable steps for implementation.

Toxic Blooms Are a Public Health Risk and Increase Water Treatment Costs

The waters in Clear Lake, the second largest in California, shelter a treacherous occupant — potentially toxic blooms of cyanobacteria. The harmful algal blooms are a threat to public health, recreation, and the local economy.

For the 18 public water systems that draw from the lake the noxious blooms are something else: an operating hazard that is complicating their treatment processes and increasing the cost of providing clean water in one of the state’s poorest counties.

California Tribes Call Out Degradation of Clear Lake

Seven years ago, after the fish died, Sarah Ryan decided she couldn’t wait any longer for help. California was in the depths of its worst drought in the last millennium and its ecosystems were gasping. For Ryan, the fish kill in Clear Lake, the state’s second largest and the centerpiece of Lake County, was the last straw.

Ryan is the environmental director for Big Valley Rancheria. She and others raised alarms for several years about increasingly dire blooms of toxic cyanobacteria.

‘I’m Scared of Getting Sick From the Water’

Like more than 300 communities across California, the tiny town of El Adobe in Kern County lacks safe drinking water. Since 2008, the arsenic levels in one of its two wells have regularly exceeded the safety standards set by federal and state authorities, often by more than double.

A 2013 report recommended the community consolidate with the larger water system in nearby Lamont. Residents are still waiting for that to happen. Some are losing hope.

For Spanish-Speaking Families, an Uphill Battle for Special Needs Services

A 2020 Public Counsel study of youth ages 3 to 21 living at home found that, for every $1 an English-speaking child received in fiscal year 2018-2019, a Spanish-speaking child received 82 cents — a disparity that grew 46 percent over the previous four years.

The unequal spending on services has persisted despite the state allocating an extra $11 million annually to reduce disparities in the regional center system.

A Law Designed to Protect Health Consumers Has Ended Up Hurting Them

Network directories — lists of providers contracted with health plans — form the heart of decision-making for health care consumers. They can help people decide which health plan to choose if they want to stay with a trusted doctor.

But health care providers say insurers have shifted the burden of updating directories onto them — a patchwork system that is still riddled with errors and leaves consumers paying the price.

Analysis: Why California Should Expand Health Coverage to Undocumented Seniors

While President Barack Obama’s 2010 health reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, greatly expanded insurance access, it excluded undocumented immigrants across the country. This likely contributed to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on undocumented Californians. Health equity and immigrant rights advocates have been urging California leaders to broaden health coverage for nearly a decade.

To Counter Domestic Violence, Some Native Americans Embrace Tradition

Mike Duncan is founder of Native Dads Network, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that runs workshops on healthy parenting and relationships. The workshops draw on traditional Indigenous teachings about the value of life, the role of parents and the sacredness of women.

The network is one of a growing number of programs across the state that seek to address high rates of domestic violence in many Tribal communities by using Native American people’s own traditions and history as a guide.

Opinion: COVID-19 Shows Us Why California Must Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

Long-standing racist policies and practices have determined where and how Californians live, work, receive health care, attend schools and more. For Black Californians, Latinx Californians, and other Californians of color these racist policies block opportunities to be healthy.

When the pandemic started, it became abundantly clear that the virus was disproportionately harming communities of color, who are at increased risk of severe illness due to long-standing inequities.

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