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Obamacare Sign-ups Among Blacks Still Low in California; Increased Efforts Made to Engage and Enroll African-Americans

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By California Black Media

Concerned about the low number of African-Americans taking advantage of low-cost health insurance plans or free Medi-Cal coverage, Covered California is pumping new resources into an eleventh-hour drive to get more black Californians to seize the opportunities available through Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline is March 31. Beyond that date, Californians without health care coverage — either through an employer, the Covered California insurance exchange or Medi-Cal — will face financial penalties.

Only about half of the blacks in California eligible for a dramatic improvement in their health care coverage have enrolled thus far. Of particular interest to advocates are the opportunities in Medi-Cal: it is now available, free of charge, to all single men and women earning less than $14,431 per year; families of four are eligible for Medi-Cal with an income less than $29,367.

In a recent press briefing, Covered California executive director Peter V. Lee acknowledged the challenge of getting more African-Americans engaged in the enrollment process.

“With African-Americans it’s about 2.6 percent of folks that have enrolled, and the percentage who are eligible is about 4 percent — so we are not doing as well as we want,” he said in response to a question from California Black Media. “So, one of our targets in the last month has been to redouble our efforts. We’ve made additional ad buys in African-American papers and are doing more outreach. We’re optimistic, because our aspirations are that we want to enroll everybody that is eligible.”

However, Betty Williams, of 1 Solution — a statewide certified Covered California enroller and educator, serving a predominantly African-American population — believes the turnout could have been better. “I’ve been saying that for a long time,” she said. “The coverage in print, radio and social media just wasn’t there from the beginning. I’ve had to step up and hire more staff. In addition, the 800 [information] number closes at 5 [p.m.], and I’ve partnered with some churches to enroll people from 5:30 onward. I’ve even used my own money to cover the expense.”

These challenges don’t exist in every community. At a recent public event in downtown Los Angeles, Lee, along with Toby Douglas, director of the California Department of Health Services (DHCS), announced that more than 3 million Californians have signed up through Covered California or Medi-Cal since Oct. 1.

According to Lee, the number of consumers selecting a Covered California health insurance plan reached 880,082 by the end of February — including 762,174 consumers who are eligible for subsidies. He added that the five-month enrollment figure exceeds by more than 200,000 the base projection for Covered California for the entire six-month enrollment period, which ends March 31.

Still, in the African-American community, advocates are pushing forward with culturally-specific methods of outreach. One of those avenues: getting people enrolled in houses of worship. Several faith-based organizations in California have been enlisted to spread the word about the importance of securing health care coverage.

“Churches are considered an important engine in funneling information to the African American community, because historically the church, family and the school have been the major institutions responsible for the viability of the African-American community,” said Tara Lynn Gray of the California Black Health Network. “In addition, the church is many times the center for social interaction in African- American communities — and therefore influences ideas, thoughts and cultural dynamics of the entire community.”

With the deadline drawing nearer, civil rights organizations are also stepping up efforts to boost enrollment. Frederick B. Young Jr., president of the Tri-City NAACP in Solano County, said his organization has hosted forums aimed at disseminating accurate information and encouraging peopleto enroll.

Most forum attendees have questions about cost and the process of changing coverage. Among the proudest successes for Young’s organization: helping secure coverage for both a cancer patient and a developmentally disabled young adult.

“Our primary objective,” Young said, “is to educate folks.”

CBM correspondent Kenzie Jackson contributed to this report.

Nearly 300 in Attendance to Educate and Prevent Human Trafficking at Ensure Justice Conference

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Costa Mesa – The past weekend's annual Ensure Justice conference was host to nearly 300 attendees, representing law enforcement, political officials, policymakers, faith-based groups, businesses, Orange County community members and students from universities across Southern California. Each year the conference is geared to facilitate emerging networks in human trafficking prevention and create connections across disciplines and regions.

The conference theme, “Why is SHE a slave? went beyond theory and anecdotes. The conference was dedicated to Aubreyanna, 17-year-old Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) victim killed here in Orange County on February 4th. Being face to face with this reality compelled students and attendees to take advantage of every moment of access to our guest experts,” says Sandie Morgan, director for the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University.

During the conference, Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief, challenged attendees with the possibility of ending slavery with the integration of faith and practice, while survivor advocate, Shyima Hall, stepped up to the microphone with her own powerful survivor’s story. “I got to see them go to justice,” said Hall, after witnessing criminal court charges against the family who held her as a slave in their upscale suburban home. Rev. David Myers, senior advisor to the administer/director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spoke on “Faith in Action” which focused on building strategic partnerships in educating the community as well as law enforcement on human trafficking in your own neighborhood.

Workshop speakers for the weekend included Amy Hewat, U.S. anti-trafficking specialist for World Relief, Sherri Harris, NETS-OC program director from The Salvation Army, and Nicole Wood, also from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other top experts in preventing and educating on the subject of human trafficking.

The Global Center for Women and Justice called attendees to study the issues, be a voice and make a difference. “While our conference ended with a call to action to ‘do something’, it was based on carefully researched best practice strategies,” explains Morgan.

The Ensure Justice conference was made possible by the Global Center for Women and Justice board members, the More Priceless Than Diamonds committee, Kéan Coffee, Shine, and Vanguard University.

Save the date for next year’s Ensure Justice conference, being held March 6-7, 2014. The Global Center for Women and Justice will also hold a More Priceless Than Diamonds luncheon at the Balboa Bay Club on September 13, 2014.

To view highlights from the Ensure Justice conference, CLICK HERE, and to learn more about upcoming events, visit gcwj.vanguard.edu

-PRESS RELEASE-

Harlem Globetrotters Bring Summer Clinics To Los Angeles Area July 5 through July 29

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Summer Clinics coached by Globetrotters stars expanding across the country

The world famous Harlem Globetrotters are bringing their widely popular Summer Clinics – in partnership with fitness club industry leader, 24 Hour Fitness®– to the Los Angeles area for more fun on the court with the only clinics coached by Globetrotters stars.

Each day consists of three separate, two-hour sessions – 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“It doesn’t matter what skill level you are, every kid will have a blast at our Summer Clinics,” said Globetrotters star Dizzy Grant. “What could be more fun than to be coached by the Harlem Globetrotters? We bring joy to the game unlike anyone else.”

At the Harlem Globetrotters Summer Clinics, kids will:

  • Spend two fun-filled hours with their friends being coached by Globetrotters stars.
  • Learn more than just the fundamentals, as the Globetrotters emphasize how to be a good teammate on and off the court.
  • Find out just how much fun basketball can be for kids of all skill levels.
  • Leave with an official clinic certificate, personalized nickname and ticket voucher to the Globetrotters’ 2015 North American Tour (valued up to $40).
  • Have a photograph and autograph session at the end of the clinic.

Clinics are open to boys and girls of all skill levels, ages 6-12. The registration price is $69 per two-hour session, but those who register by March 17, 2014, will save $15 per registration. For more information, and to find the nearest clinic, visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com/clinics.

-PRESS RELEASE-

New Study: California Banks Buy Little from Minority-Owned Businesses

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SAN FRANCISCO – California’s largest banks buy few goods and services from minority-owned businesses, reports a new study from The Greenlining Institute, released this morning in San Francisco. In a state where people of color make up 60 percent of the population, banks obtained less than eight percent of the goods and services they procured in 2012 from businesses owned by African Americans, Latinos, Asians or Native Americans.

ESCAPING THE OLD BOY NETWORK: The Banking Industry and Supplier Diversity is the first study to ever examine in detail the degree to which banks with the largest California market share contract with diverse-owned businesses.

”Banks are a key engine of our economy, purchasing over $51 billion in goods and services in 2012,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Sasha Werblin. “It should not be considered acceptable that their supplier networks so completely fail to reflect the diversity of California.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Entrepreneurship is essential to the health of communities of color. Minority business enterprises (MBEs) outpaced the growth of their counterparts between 2002 and 2007. When MBEs do business with major institutions like banks, they generate wealth and create jobs in their communities, but these firms still face challenges breaking through “old boy networks” and obtaining contracts.
  • Banks are major purchasers of goods and services, and thus a huge potential engine of economic activity. In 2012, the participating banks in this report spent over $51.05 billion on goods and services.
  • Nationwide, contracting with minority business enterprises was nominal, with median spending at just 5.96 percent of total contract dollars and ranging from 3.46 percent to 8.37 percent. Bank of America was responsible for nearly half of all total dollars spent with MBEs.
  • California MBE contracting was only slightly better, and pales in comparison to the state’s diverse population. The banks’ 7.72 percent median spending with diverse businesses fails to represent a state that is 60 percent people of color. Only five banks currently track state-specific spending in substantial detail, and many with substantial California market share do not.
  • Currently, no uniform standard exists for how to measure banks' investment in supplier diversity, making "apples to apples" comparisons impossible. The federal Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion should create standard reporting regulations to create transparency and assist the financial sector, advocates and small businesses as they work together to improve opportunities for minority business enterprises.

SEIU to Hold Black History Events in San Francisco

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The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021 will have 2 Black History Month events in February. The first event will be held on Feb. 27 at the SEIU 1021 office. The event will include food, music and a presentation on the challenges facing San Francisco residents and members.

The organization will also hold an event on March 29, "Wealth and disparities in the Black Community What's Next?".

The event will: Raise awareness of wealth gaps in the Black community, discuss problem solving ideas concerning violence, mass incarceration, workers rights in the workplace, Out-migration report, living wages, create a dialogue and partnership with SEIU 1021 leaders and much more. Board of Supervisors Malia Cohen and David Campos will also be on panels.

This event is open to everyone. RSVP at 1-877-687-1021 or by email brendabarros@rocketmail.com or hopereservation@yahoo.com.

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