These last few weeks have marked some momentous victories in the fight for health and justice for all. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld marriage equality, paving the way for same-sex couples in every state to marry. The High Court also upheld the integrity of President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act. Additionally, our state of California approved expanded access to health coverage for 170,000 undocumented immigrant children. We have also witnessed the sight of Confederate Flags coming down from statehouses in the South.
Each and every one of these developments – health care for all, marriage equality and the removal of symbols of racism – are because of years and decades of advocacy by grassroots and community heroes in the battle for justice.
Inequality and lack of opportunity can create and exacerbate poor health, and so we, The California Endowment, will continue our commitment in supporting those who take a community-engaged, “systems” approach to health improvement. Poor health is concentrated in groups and populations who are ignored or marginalized by public policies and systems: communities of color, LGBT, immigrants, the incarcerated, and others. So we support the grassroots and advocacy organizations that fight for health, through the lens of health and justice for all.
For this reason, we are celebrating the forward momentum of our state and nation by showcasing a 700-square-foot banner at our Los Angeles headquarters that lifts up the importance of inclusion and equality for all Californians.
The young man whose arm and fist are featured in the image on the banner is one such individual who has struggled to achieve justice in health care for himself. His name is Oscar Alarcon and he was diagnosed with diabetes 3 1/2 years ago. Oscar is undocumented and gay and did not qualify for any publicly-funded health coverage, nor was he able to purchase health coverage through California’s health exchange because of his immigration status. Fortunately, Oscar qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and is now able to access health coverage and manage his diabetes.
But there are still thousands of Californians struggling to access health care due to their immigration status. The Endowment and its partners will continue to fight for health and justice for all until all Californians have access to health coverage and care that is their basic human right.