Community Health Councils is excited to co-sponsor a budget ask in partnership with the California Pan- Ethnic Health Network, Maternal and Child Health Access, and Asian Resources Inc. to fund Community Health Navigators in the 2022-2023 California budget.

This budget ask would advance health equity by ensuring community-based organizations can continue to provide outreach, enrollment, retention, and utilization services to low-income communities—and especially communities of color, immigrant communities, and limited English proficient (LEP) communities. Additionally, Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula has introduced Assembly Bill 2680, which would establish the Medi-Cal Health Navigators program in partnership with the budget ask.

Research published in October 2021 in the Journal of the Board of Family Medicine found that individuals assisted by local community-based navigators in Los Angeles County were three times more likely to report having a primary care clinic and over two and half times more likely to report having a primary care provider compared to the comparison group. They were also significantly less likely to experience several barriers to care such as not having insurance, not being able to pay for a visit, not having a usual place of care, not knowing how or where to get care and not having transportation to it.

In May, California will expand Medi-Cal access to all income-eligible adults over age 50, regardless of immigration status. It is critical that California has the infrastructure in place to meet the needs of the over 200,000 newly eligible older adults from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. This will require targeted education and outreach strategies led by trusted community members, such as health navigators.

The COVID-19 pandemic Public Health Emergency order that paused Medi-Cal redeterminations is expected to be lifted after June, resulting in thousands of Californians potentially losing their coverage. We anticipate high demand for renewal assistance at this time, and community health navigators will be essential to ensuring families can get through the process without losing coverage.

For more than twenty years, CHC has provided navigation services to low-income communities of color in Los Angeles County. Our Community Navigators provide support on eligibility, enrollment, accessing care, and troubleshooting a wide array of issues that come up in the health coverage system. By investing in community-informed outreach strategies, California can increase access to health care for our communities of color, immigrant communities, and other historically marginalized populations.