Blue Shield of California policy statement:
Blue Shield of California supports ongoing investments to address deep and structural health inequities in communities across California. We commend Governor Newsom for addressing this issue in his state budget proposal.
Our nonprofit mission is to create a health care system worthy of our family and friends, and the communities we serve, that is sustainably affordable. This cannot be realized while unfair and avoidable differences in health status and outcomes persist within and between population groups, especially those that historically have been excluded or marginalized. We know discrimination and systemic racism are key factors in causing these health inequities with intergenerational effects. We see this firsthand in both perennial disparities and disproportionate impacts from shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than women of other races regardless of educational attainment.
- Latinx/Latino populations in California make up nearly 60 percent of COVID-19 cases but represent approximately 38 percent of the population.
- Asian and Pacific Islanders in California are most likely to die in the hospital (pre- COVID).
- Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.
Blue Shield’s own work on closing gaps and dismantling systemic racism is built upon a credible commitment to invest in impactful initiatives with a long-term time horizon. Therefore, we support the Senate and Assembly’s inclusion of $100 million annually in state funding for grants to community-based organizations to address health disparities, and $15 million for the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. These resources will uplift high- potential, culturally responsive partners that help us measure and act upon the needs and outcomes from our communities—especially by enabling better reporting and use of data on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
We commend Governor Newsom’s vision for all Californians to live their healthiest possible lives by ending racism, discrimination, and bias. Like the Legislature and other stakeholders, we also recognize that racial justice and health equity agendas require multiyear efforts and ground-level commitment to be impactful.