Be counted for health care


Census data guides the distribution of funds for new hospitals and clinics,
caregiver staffing and medical supplies

Why is it essential that every person in the United States be counted in the 2020 Census? Because that data will be used over the next decade to help guide the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding to local communities. As the U.S. Census Bureau puts it, “The funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.”

One of the most crucial pieces is health care. The placement of clinics and hospitals, caregiver staffing, distribution of medical supplies, and even programs to address oral health — all are linked to Census data and the distribution of funds.

In California Census Region 4 — a 10-county portion of the San Joaquin Valley — the Sustainable Rural Communities Project (SRCP) focuses on “health justice” for underserved populations.

“I work on health access for farm workers in low-income rural communities, including the indigent and the undocumented,” says SRCP Director Noé Paramo, who also is the legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

“We’re at a crucial point in California’s Census count, particularly in rural areas where the undocumented are traditionally undercounted,” Paramo says. “What’s vital is that farm workers, undocumented immigrants and others be counted, so that California can get the resources it needs to provide medical care. Without medical coverage and care, illness is an issue. We’re trying to reduce that.”

Currently, there are not enough medical providers or facilities in Region 4. “The need is tremendous, and the Census data are vital to make the case for funding, Paramo says.

The shortage of providers and facilities is also a huge concern. “A lot of rural hospitals have closed, [along with some] community clinics and health centers, and several counties have phased them out altogether,” he says. “So you have fragmented care, with patients caught in the middle of where to go and having to navigate the system. If you’re English-speaking deficient, you have a hard time.”

Getting transportation from isolated areas to medical facililties also is an issue, along with stress over “the fear of accessing medical care, caused by anti-immigrant feelings and federal government policies,” Paramo says. “Even if you get primary care, there are waiting lists for specialty care. We want people healthy and accessing care and not letting themselves get sick, which could cause health issues across communities.”

Despite the hurdles, Paramo is optimisic. “There’s a robust collaboration going on between government and private and philanthropic entities to get people counted,” he says. “We’ll have the updated data to give to officials so they’ll know how to provide additional health-related services, or meet the needs that must be addressed.”

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EARNING THE VOTE OF LATINA WOMEN Anyone who wants to lead in California must do so with the support of Latina voters. California’s independent redistricting commission adopted final congressional and legislative districts for the next decade, starting with the 2022 mid-term elections. When you read about a Latino-majority district in California—think Latina power. Latina voters consistently outperform their Latino male counterparts in voting: 22 of the 80 new state Assembly districts are Latino-majority with Latina power voting blocs; 10 of the 40 state Senate districts are Latino-majority with Latina power voting blocs; 16 of 52 total congressional districts in California are Latino-majority with Latina power voting blocs. The articles below highlight the ever-growing Latina base of voters who are personally experiencing a housing crisis that is pushing their families out of their homes, and the climate change crisis in the form of toxic drinking water and pervasive health issues resulting from wildfires, drought and pesticide use near our homes. It is time to invest in the Central Valley and in the Coachella Valley beyond the usual election cycle or tit-for-tat politics. It is beyond time that the pathway towards California’s future centers on the priorities of Latina women and women as a whole because we are the spark leading the ways towards a better future—LÚCETE! Click on the icon here to learn more about CNC Education Fund: