Author: Denzel Tongue

Analysis: It’s Time to End the Racially Unjust Medical Debt Crisis

It’s the kind of case attorney Helen Tran deals with all too often. An Asian-American small business owner came into her office at Neighborhood Legal Services in Los Angeles begging for help with a surprise, five-figure medical bill.

The woman had health insurance. Yet, due to a mix-up caused by misinformation from her insurer, she’d received two chemotherapy treatments from an out-of-network provider that she had believed was in network. This simple mistake ended up devastating her financially.

Analysis: The Case for Defunding the Police

Local governments invest a huge percentage of their budgets in policing, often to the detriment of other community services. Yet the results of this enormous taxpayer outlay are mediocre at best.

That’s why advocates across the country are calling on governments to reduce police budgets and reallocate those funds to services that tackle the underlying social and economic factors generating crime and perpetuating structural racism. These include programs such as job training, mental health services, homelessness prevention and basic income supports.

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.

Analysis: We Can Build an Equitable Health Workforce. Here’s How

California’s leaders must build a diverse and culturally competent health workforce. This starts with making investments in the communities that are most vulnerable and medically underserved.

Policymakers should work to expand health career pipeline programs for underrepresented students. Programs such as Health Career Connection have driven talented students of color into health care and public health careers for years. Full disclosure: I’m an alum.

My Grandparents’ Redlining Story Shows Why We Must Do Better

I share this part of my grandfather’s story to illustrate the real and lasting impacts of institutional racism: The same policies that cultivated wealth for White people in the United States prohibited the accumulation of wealth for Black people.

Today, as we face the impact of COVID-19 and the racial inequities it is revealing, our leaders have an opportunity to do better. Now is an opportune time to create equitable policies.

Denzel Tongue outside of a building that reads "State of California."

Opinion: How Systemic Racism Shows Up in California—And Why We Must End It

Growing up in Oakland, I quickly saw first-hand how racism resigns people of color, and Black Americans in particular, to shorter, sicker lives.

Data shows that African Americans in Alameda County live roughly seven years fewer than the county average.

If we act now, we can radically reshape our society in a positive way. Reducing the impact of and ultimately ending systemic racism has to be at the top of the list.

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