By Zoila Sanchez, Policy Analyst, Health Policy Project, National Council of La Raza
Many of the programs that vulnerable, working, and middle-class families use to overcome poverty and secure good health are continuously in jeopardy. This is cause for alarm since Latinos are more likely to be uninsured and disproportionately impacted by food insecurity and chronic diseases such as obesity. Programs that promote health equity can be a lifeline for many Latinos, providing them with high-quality, affordable care.
There are many compelling reasons for protecting programs that support health equity among Latinos:
- More than one in three (35 percent) people served by Community Health Centers, which provide culturally competent and affordable health care, are Latino.
- Nearly one-half (49.3 percent) of Latino children are insured by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicaid provides affordable health coverage to millions of low-income working Latino families, reaching one-quarter of Latino adults.
- Food insecurity rates are significantly higher among Latino-headed households than the national average (26.2 percent versus 14.9 percent). Federal food assistance programs help struggling families overcome hunger and food insecurity.
The current debate on budget priorities threatens multiple programs that improve the quality of and access to care for populations in need. Some are designed to address the root causes of poor health in marginalized or ill-equipped communities. Many already took a hit when the sequester went into effect on March 1, while others are unfunded in the president’s 2014 budget. Take for example the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides critical support for nutrition and obesity prevention programs. The sequester cut the fund by $51 million, and the president’s budget proposes cuts to the fund’s Community Transformation Grants program and the Community Services Block Grant.
In the video below, Kurt Sheppard, CEO of Valle del Sol, an NCLR Affiliate in Phoenix, reminds us that when making tough decisions on the federal budget, “It is not just about numbers—it is about people.”
Where we invest our money will have direct, long-term consequences on the health of our children and families. We need a thoughtful, balanced approach that does not force the most vulnerable to carry the weight and recognizes the hard cuts already made to programs that keep Americans healthy.
It is imperative that the budgets of programs serving Latinos be protected. We cannot build a healthy nation without investing in opportunities that give everyone an equal chance at good health. The investments we make in health programs today will benefit generations to come, securing our nation’s promise of a healthy future for one and all.