Op-Ed

Opinion: The Central Valley Lacks Public Parks, But We Can Do Better

Trust for Public Land annually ranks park systems across the 100 most populated cities in the United States. Those in California’s Central Valley often rank near the bottom: Fresno ranks 97th. Bakersfield is 85th. Stockton ranks 77th.

Stockton and other Central Valley cities can improve their ranking with the help of California’s budget surplus. When we build parks in neighborhoods that don’t have any, we change the lives and futures of generations to come.

Opinion: How to Ensure Medi-Cal Members Can Access Their Mental Health Benefits

Medi-Cal members might have mental health coverage in theory, but using it is a different story. People of color are less likely than white people to use mental health benefits, partially due to systemic inequities in the system. The same is true of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) youth.

Our communities care greatly about their mental health and the mental health of their loved ones, yet California’s promises to provide care fall short.

Opinion: An Urgent Call to Address the Housing Crisis in Black Communities

We are calling on the region’s leaders and residents to support a historic $500 million Bay Area Regional Black Housing Fund.

Black communities face multiple systemic barriers that lead to massive displacement in the Bay Area. Black people have been disadvantaged in the state’s housing market for decades because of discrimination, including redlining, unequal access to wealth and good jobs, and other systemic problems.

Opinion: New Medi-Cal Rx Is Riddled With Problems, Hurting Those Who Need it Most

Despite warnings that the health of the state’s 14 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries would be threatened, on Jan. 1, California implemented Medi-Cal Rx, a program that stripped pharmacy benefits from health plans and handed them to a private, for-profit company.

Now, a month into the new program, there are reports that thousands of Medi-Cal patients have been left without their medications.

Opinion: We Need Sustainable Funding to End Domestic Violence

California’s education system needs more social, emotional and sexual health education that recognizes the racial and gender identities of young people. Prevention programs can meet this need.

California’s legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom should include $15 million in ongoing funding in the state budget. By combining prevention and intervention funding, we can address the needs of survivors of violence and also prevent future violence.

Opinion: How to Improve Health? Give All Californians Housing

As a California high school student, I have become aware of one of the biggest health threats facing some of my peers: The lack of a stable home.

I believe access to housing is an individual right and a community need. The most fundamental health-related need is housing. A home is more than just a place to live. Lack of housing and high rents directly impact health, hygiene, safety and the ability to combat illnesses—especially during a pandemic.

Opinion: Online Learning Doesn’t Work for Low-Income Students Like Me. Here’s How We Can Do Better

Our educational system was unequal even before the pandemic. Those inequalities were exacerbated when students transitioned to learning from home.

Black, Latinx and Native American students suffered the most. Not only did they suddenly find themselves isolated from their schools and peers, but their families were disproportionately impacted by job losses, unequal access to health care and vulnerability to COVID-19.

Opinion: California Must Step Up to Address Racism as a Public Health Crisis

In California, 34 jurisdictions have declared racism a public health crisis. Governor Newsom, unfortunately, has failed to do so at the state level, just as he failed to support broader investments supported by the legislature to advance health equity last year.

His inaction seems to be rooted in two issues: failure to prioritize racial equity and conflating investments in health care with investments in prevention and public health.

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