Renee Santiago is the directory at Valley Medical. He presented this to everyone about initiatives in Santa Clara County to make sure all children have insurance. He reports that as access to medical services has improved for children, so too has the health of children.
Message from René G. Santiago
In 2001, the Board of Supervisors made Santa Clara County the first county in America to insure all low-to moderate-income children. Last week, our Board reviewed and accepted a report documenting how children are doing currently and since 2001. The good news is that children and youth of Santa Clara County have nearly gained 100% universal coverage since 2001. Additionally, they are reporting improved access to care and prevention, and overwhelmingly their self-reported health status levels are in the positive of ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ health. This is sound policy and decision-making at its best.
In Washington, D.C., there is much public debate about repeal, replace, and/or repair of national health reform. We certainly need to continue to be active and informed about these discussions because of their likely impacts. Nonetheless, we also need to keep in mind that our core values, decisions, and behaviors are ultimately critical to our success of “Better Health for All.”
Children and youth are our future. In Santa Clara County, they represent one quarter of the County’s total population. They are Latino (36%), Caucasian (about 1/3) Asian (another 1/3), and African-American (2%). Some of the good news from the report: teen birth rates are declining; fewer youth are involved in the juvenile justice system; and, kids are getting the immunizations they need before they go to kindergarten.
However, the assessment by our public health department also revealed persistent gaps and disparities. These include: 9% of the children in our community live below the federal poverty line with 17% of African American and 16% of Latino children living below the line. Although the high school graduation rate for all children stands at 84%, the rate for Latino students is lower at 71%. Also, many communities still experience difficulty navigating an often complex system of health and other services.
Access, affordability, and reliable care and treatment will continue to be a primary focus for all of us regardless of what happens at the federal level. For those reasons, our public health team, community leaders, and other stakeholders identified key strategies to improve the health and well-being of every child and youth in our County. These include:
● Supporting efforts to stop bullying and violence among children.
● Supporting expand quality, affordable childcare and quality universal preschool.
● Expanding and improving access to high-quality medical and dental services.
● Expanding healthy food nutrition programs.
● Increasing high-quality, affordable housing.
● Addressing structural racism that contributes to inequitable outcomes.
● Adopting universal developmental screenings for all children.
Our challenge going forward will be to continue making progress at the same time we manage the risks of ‘repeal and replace’ of the Affordable Care Act. It is vital that we continue to improve access, be a cost effective and efficient health system, and ultimately maintain our “eyes on the prize” of Better Health for All. Achieving these goals will be more important than ever before.
If you need to have a “light” moment about why this is important, check out SCVMC’s new marketing plan featuring little ones born at the hospital cheering us on