Save Rural Health

California Shouldn't Cut Health Care Funding in a Pandemic!

Join Dr. Joseph Tito, MD Chief of Surgery at Healdsburg District Hospital's letter to Califoria Lawmakers

Dear [Elected Official]:

The health care budget cuts in the May Revision of California’s state budget are alarming. Those drastic cuts during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating and disproportionate effect on brown, black and Native American communities across California and will only exacerbate the inequity that currently exists in our health care system.

The investments made in health care and expanding access to care for the past decade have not only saved lives but saved the state money. By decreasing or eliminating health care services, you are jeopardizing lives and, in the end, forcing people into expensive emergency rooms and hospitals often at a cost increase to state government programs. That makes no sense.

Minority communities comprise a significant percentage of essential workers in places like health care, hospitality, and agriculture, and are at higher risk for exposure. They are caring for residents in nursing homes, cleaning our hospitals, and working in restaurants and our agricultural fields.

Total COVID-19 cases in the minority community, both statewide and in individual counties may not be the complete picture as early data collected did not include collecting relevant data, but as that data has been collected, it reveals that they are disproportionately affected.

Latinos make up just under 40% of the population in California but they represent about half of all cases of the coronavirus and nearly 78% of cases among children 17 and younger, according to the California Department of Public Health. Latino residents between 35 and 49 years old represent a startling 71.5% of deaths statewide for that age bracket.

Of all the Sonoma County youth under 18 who have tested positive for coronavirus, a staggering 95% are Latino. Recently Sonoma county health officials revealed that local COVID-19 cases were 4½ times more prevalent among Latinos than in the county’s white population. Latinos accounted for 74% of confirmed cases but are only 27% of the county’s population.

Statewide, In Sonoma County, COVID-19 cases in the Black, Native and Alaskan Native, and Asian and Pacific Islander populations represent 5% of the cases and 8% of the county’s population. That, too, deserves our attention.

The Latino community is likely more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure, less able to access appropriate care and services, and less likely to be able to implement recommended mitigation strategies. In Sonoma County, the cost of housing is high, driving many lower income families into sharing housing, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure. We also know they are less able to access appropriate care and services, and less likely to be able to implement recommended mitigation strategies.

Cutting funding for health care during a pandemic is wrong. Please protect the vulnerable in our communities of color and reinstate funds for health care in your final state budget.

Sincerely,

XX XXX, MD
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