Quick Bites

Special Alert!

California Budget Agreement Preserves Critical Dental Access

On Monday, Governor Newsom, Pro Tem Atkins, and Speaker Rendon announced a budget agreement for fiscal year 2020-2021. In a significant departure from his May budget revision proposal, Governor Newsom agreed to abandon most of the proposed reductions to health services, including dental care. Most importantly, California will maintain the Medi-Cal adult dental benefit, including coverage for gum treatment, rear root canals, and partial dentures.

In addition, the budget agreement preserves the supplemental rates for dentists in the Medi-Cal program, funded by the Proposition 56 tax on tobacco products. However, it includes a potential elimination date of July 1, 2021.

The budget agreement does not contain the full transition to fee-for-service Medi-Cal dental and maintains the Dental Managed Care program in Sacramento and Los Angeles counties.
Unfortunately, the budget agreement indefinitely delays the Medi-Cal eligibility expansion for undocumented seniors ages 65 and over. This means that seniors in our immigrant communities will continue to suffer needlessly without access to dental and other critical health care services.
CA-OPEN sent key legislative leaders a letter urging the rejection of the proposal adult dental benefit reduction, with over 100 California organizations joining the call to action. In addition, CA-OPEN released an analysis of the community consequences of again reducing access to dental,“Hanging by a Thread: Current Threats to California’s Progress on Oral Health Equity”. Thank you to all CA-OPEN members who signed letters, made phone calls, and shared your stories to support this advocacy!
You can access community outreach materials related to Medi-Cal dental benefits in multiple languages here.


Sign-On to Support the Campaign to Declare Racism to be a Public Health Issue


Join the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and partners in a letter to urge the Governor to declare racism to be a statewide public health crisis. Such a declaration would serve as an important first step in the state’s acknowledgment of its own racist history through the present day, and would establish specific commitments and measurable actions for beginning to undo the racism that prevents all Californians, especially those who identify as Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC), from achieving optimal health and wellbeing. CA-OPEN takes a social justice and racial equity approach to oral health, centering our work on integrating oral health equity into both policy and practice. We recognize that racism prevents communities of color from having their oral health needs met, which compounds issues of health, economic security, and emotional wellbeing.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic fall on Black, Native American, Latinx and Pacific Islander communities in California. In these past few weeks, we have joined the nationwide outrage over the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless more Black lives lost to police violence, white supremacy and systemic racism. We are outraged at the lack of progress in racial, economic and health equity in the last nearly three decades, but also are hopeful that this is a historic moment for all of us to implement the bold and broad changes that will finally make a difference.

Prior to 2020, the impacts of systemic racism, not race, on public health and health disparities have been well-documented. In the last few weeks, our communities have been exercising their right to public assembly and protest against the same racism that perpetuates inequities in our physical and mental health. Meanwhile, racism is attacking and threatening our already underfunded public health infrastructure, putting all Californians at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our communities need justice, reform, and healing now. 

A growing list of cities and counties (as of Monday June 22, 55 jurisdictions across 17 states) have been making declarations on racism as a public health emergency or crisis. The state of California should follow in the footsteps of local governments and public health leaders nationwide, but also strive to be bold, unequivocal, and strong through a declaration that racism is a public health crisis and committing to specific and measureable anti-racism actions.

Click to see a copy of the letter and sign on

The deadline to sign on to this letter is 9:00 PM (Pacific Time) on Friday, June 26, 2020

Thank you for your support! For questions, please email wzhang@cpehn.org.

Publication of Hanging by a Thread: Current Threats to Oral Health Equity


In 2015, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) worked with nine community partners across California to complete an oral health assessment. CPEHN, in collaboration with the California Oral Health Equity and Progress Network  (CA-OPEN), a statewide network of policymakers, consumers, advocates and providers committed to ensuring good oral health care is a fundamental right for all Californians, is releasing this report to illustrate how cutting benefits again would have the same deleterious impact on the oral health of communities of color across California. Click here to download.


Webinar 6/29: Federal Roll-Back of Obama Era Nondiscrimination Rule: What Californians Should Know


Join us as we discuss the recent federal rollback of the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what it does and does not mean for Californians and their continued right to access equitable health care services, including oral health services, in California. We will provide resources and information on how to pursue legal action for those who feel they have been discriminated against. The move comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately harm communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, women, and persons with disabilities and at a time when systemic racism and bias are killing and harming these same communities.

When: Monday, June 29, 2020, from 2 PM to 3 PM
Registration Linkhttps://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5876945033751401998
Who should attend: Community partners, advocates, and health care consumers

Background: On Friday, June 12, the Trump administration formalized a rollback of an Obama era regulation that protects patients from discrimination in health care settings. The rollback of the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is yet another attack on women, LGBTQ+ communities, Limited English Proficient individuals and persons with disabilities, and will only lead to unnecessary confusion and harm.  The revised federal rule makes it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender people and women seeking the full range of reproductive services and weakens federal notification requirements for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals by no longer requiring plans and providers to provide notices and information in one’s native language, now allowing providers instead to take “reasonable steps” to do so.

Fortunately, California’s nondiscrimination laws are strong and have not changed. California law independently protects equal access to health care regardless of a patient’s sex, gender identity, or gender expression, including access to transition-related care. It is also against the law for insurance companies to engage in marketing practices or benefit designs that “have the effect of discouraging the enrollment of individuals with significant health needs.” And in 2017, Senator Atkins championed a CPEHN sponsored bill (SB 223) which was signed into law, requiring health plans to notify their members of the state’s stronger anti-discrimination protections and the availability of free language assistance services, including translation, oral interpretation, auxiliary aids and services in the top 15 languages spoken by Californians.

These provisions are still in full effect, regardless of the federal actions taken by the Trump Administration. Agencies that regulate or provide oversight of health insurance in California have reiterated that California’s nondiscrimination protections are still in effect. You can see below for their letters to insurance companies about protections for LGBTQ+, Limited English Proficient, and Californians with disabilities.

Anyone who thinks they are the victim of discrimination should contact their health plan.

For more information, please contact Monika Lee, MLee@cpehn.org