Blog

Health Equity Solutions’ 2023 Policy Agenda

by Karen Siegel, She/Her on

Your advocacy has been an essential part of progress over the last few years! As we celebrate success in advancing health equity, we know our work is far from finished. Join us in building on those early steps to move Connecticut further along the path to health equity in 2023! In the year ahead, we will focus on priorities identified by Connecticut’s people. Health Equity Solutions' 2022 Community Conversations highlighted consistent themes: access to affordable, quality health care, meeting basic needs, and anti-racism stood out as top priorities!

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2022 Community Conversations Final Report

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

Health Equity Solutions engaged 204 Connecticut residents in 47 towns in conversations about health equity. We partnered with 5 community organizations and 6 libraries to reach more people than in prior years and deepen our understanding of what Connecticut residents see as the highest priorities for advancing health equity.

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CT's Path to Equity: Guide to State Policy for Health Equity

by Karen Siegel, She/Her on

We, the undersigned, stand in support of Connecticut's Path to Equity and the policies it outlines in the pages that follow. Collectively, we will work to dismantle racism and construct health equity in Connecticut. We invite you to join us.

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Declaring Racism, a Public Health Crisis Summary Report

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

One of the greatest barriers to achieving health equity is the historical and contemporary relationship between racism and health. Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis offers a clear path to intentionally acknowledging and addressing disparities and inequities in our state.

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Community Conversations 2022 Workshops

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

Each year Health Equity Solutions hosts listening sessions to learn what health equity issues are most important to people in Connecticut. This year we are flipping the script.  Let’s talk about it! We want to learn the health equity issues that are most important to you AND how you want to be involved in health equity work whether that means informing the Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health, pushing change at the state legislature, or educating our state about the impacts of racism on health, among lots of other options. Come & join us!

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Connecticut’s Path to Equity Workshops

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

We need your help! Earlier this year, we published Connecticut’s Path to Equity – a draft framework of state-level policy changes to promote health equity in Connecticut. While this draft included feedback from partners and a survey, HES wants to be sure the next version reflects even more Connecticut residents’ priorities for achieving health equity.

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2022 Health Equity Week

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Health Equity Week: April 3-9, 2022! (#HealthEquityWeek & #HEW22) There are lots of opportunities to get involved! You can raise awareness, join events (listed below), join the conversation on social media, and contribute to the evolving framework: Connecticut’s Path to Equity. Join us for Health Equity Week!

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CT’s Path to Equity: Affordability

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

Affordability means people can access health care while still covering routine expenses. Approximately 18% of Connecticut households with working adults had health care costs that exceeded their ability to afford basic needs. Black, Latino, and low-income adults are disproportionately affected by higher health care costs and face more hurdles to meet basic needs. Across the United States, Black and Latino/a households are more likely to experience medical debt and avoid health care due to cost. As Connecticut’s health insurance programs grow more complex, confusion about costs and coverage will likely exacerbate this trend.

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Opportunities to be healthy are the conditions and circumstances that enable us to prevent illness and injury and maintain the best possible quality of life when disease or accidents occur. These are the daily context in which people live, work, play, pray, and age and that affect their health.

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Anti-racist structures acknowledge that all people and institutions exhibit racism at some point or some way and are committed to dismantling racism through policies and practices that advance racial justice and promote equity. In 2021, Connecticut passed Public Act 21-35, which declared racism a public health crisis, created a Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health, defined “structural racism,” and took other steps to promote health equity in CT. The state’s 2021 budget also created an infrastructure for racial and ethnic impact assessments on proposed legislation, which was authorized in 2018.

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CT’s Path to Equity: Access

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

Access is the ability to receive high-quality health care that meets each person’s needs. This means care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate, having the technology to monitor health or participate in telehealth, a workforce large and diverse enough to address each person’s needs, and community-based supports that help people get and stay as healthy as possible. Community-based supports are a vital tool in promoting equitable access to health. In particular, lay health workers—including community health workers, doulas, and peer support workers—connect people with the health care services they need and the resources to navigate health and social service systems.

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CT’s Path to Equity: Inclusion

by Harley Webley, She/Her on

Inclusion describes systems, processes, and circumstances that are open to and respectful of the needs of diverse people. Achieving health equity requires us to be intentional in creating meaningful exchanges of ideas among our health systems, policymakers, and the people most affected by inequities at every stage of policymaking—from identifying problems to evaluating the effects of policies and adapting to new information.

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Connecticut’s Path to Equity

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

The path to equity is woven through every aspect of our policies, structures, and processes. At the same time, the steps Connecticut can take to dismantle structural racism and achieve health equity are concrete, feasible, and within our reach.

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Race, ethnicity, and language (REL) measurement means collecting, analyzing, and using data to identify and address health disparities. Quality REL data is self-reported using detailed, standardized categories and selecting multiple categories. While Connecticut’s overall health performance ranks above the national average, Black residents continue to experience a disproportionate share of poor health outcomes. To evaluate whether policies and practices promote equity, make informed decisions, and detect inequities where we may not expect them, we must have high-quality and detailed race, ethnicity, and language (REL) data.

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Health Equity Solutions recently submitted a public comment on the Office of Health Strategy’s Roadmap for Strengthening and Sustaining Primary Care. This Roadmap is intended to inform the development of the state’s primary care infrastructure through health reforms that expand the team of providers caring for patients, align how they coordinate, and improve the system’s capacity to address social drivers of health by expanding payment options beyond a fee-for-service model. Read more here.

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Health Equity Solutions (HES), in partnership with the Community Health Worker Association of Connecticut (CHWACT), organized three virtual community health worker (CHW) forums from August - September of 2021. The purpose of these forums was to hold space for CHWs to gather and share their thoughts, priorities, and concerns for the CHW workforce in the state of Connecticut.

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Health Equity Solutions’ 2022 Policy Agenda

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

The events of the past two years raised the visibility of racial inequities and catalyzed change. Now we must build on those early steps to move Connecticut further along the path to health equity. Join us in 2022 as we push for anti-racist policymaking that is guided by community voices.

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Health Equity Solutions 2021 Listening Sessions

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

To inform our 2022 policy agenda, Health Equity Solutions conducted 9 listening sessions (8 virtual & 1 in person) and an online survey across Connecticut, with a total of 128 participants from 37 towns/cities. Participants discussed the issues they saw as most important when thinking of health equity and health care and how, if at all, the pandemic has changed their thoughts about what is most needed to achieve health equity in Connecticut.

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Trainings: Advocate for Affordable Healthcare!

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Come & join the Health Equity for the People by the People (HEPxP) coalition that includes CT Students for a Dream, Health Equity Solutions, Ministerial Health Fellowship, & Make the Road CT for multiple trainings! Learn more about how to advocate for affordable healthcare leading up to the 2022 legislative session!

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Health Equity Language Guide for State Officials

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Health Equity Solutions, in partnership with State Health and Value Strategies, created a 3-part Health Equity Language Guide for State Officials. The Guide includes definitions and explanations of words and phrases, how to think about their usage, and examples of how they might be applied.

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Health Equity Solutions in partnership with the CHW Association of Connecticut invites you to join a virtual community health worker (CHW) forum! These forums will be approximately an hour and a half long. We hope to learn your thoughts, priorities, and concerns on what is needed to continue to advance the CHW workforce in the state of CT.

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HES 2021 Virtual Listening Sessions

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Health Equity Solutions invites you to join one of our 2021 Listening Sessions! Each year, Health Equity Solutions hosts listening sessions to learn what health equity issues are most important to people in Connecticut. The sessions will be approximately an hour and a half long and are open to community members and partner organizations. Each session will have a maximum of 25 people. Please join us!

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Health Equity Solutions recently sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Social (DSS) Services outlining opportunities for DSS to leverage the ongoing policies and practices undertaken by Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families to address systemic racism. Read HES' recommendations & letter here!

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American Rescue Plan Act Funding and Health Equity

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

As the state continues to work together to come to an agreement on proposals for allocating funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, we ask leadership to center health equity as the goal of this funding package. The proposal for American Rescue Plan Act funding, which passed out of the Appropriations Committee this week, reduces or removes several provisions of the initial proposal that would advance health equity.

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Governor's Proposed Federal Spending Plan

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

As we begin to gradually emerge from this pandemic, Health Equity Solutions aims to ensure that we learn from this past year and address the inequities it has so starkly highlighted. On Monday, Governor Lamont released a proposal for allocating federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act with provisions that show promise for moving Connecticut towards health equity in the coming years, including 1) Funding 100 community health workers (CHWs) to support families with newborns as they navigate the health and social services systems; 2) Streamlining access to health and human services through an online portal for state-run services; 3) Improving access to broadband internet services in homes and public spaces; and 4) Expanding the Office of Health Equity in the Department of Public Health.

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Connecticut’s Path to Health Equity 2021

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Newly increased focus on health equity and racial justice have led to the enthusiasm and also sometimes a sense that equity is too big and unwieldy of a goal. To launch Health Equity Week 2021, Health Equity Solutions created this “path to health equity” as a way to show that while this journey will be long and challenging, it is also feasible and clearly laid out for us. The video depicts the policy “steps” we can take to advance health equity in Connecticut. This initial version of the path is based on conversations with partners, community members, and policymakers.

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It is Time to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis in CT!

by Tekisha Dwan Everette on

This past summer, we saw uprisings across the state calling for long-overdue racial justice. At that time, Health Equity Solutions began a petition demanding an intentional anti-racist focus in policymaking in the state of Connecticut. With signatures from residents from over 130 towns, we knew there was a passion to do more, and we knew that we were not alone. HES began engaging with local residents to declare racism a public health crisis in local municipalities. With the help of local residents and grassroots organizations, so far 21 towns and cities and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation have made the declaration. Our 21 municipalities are part of over 180 entities across the country who have taken this first step and we can and should become the 6th State to lead the nation in the march towards health equity for all.

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Health Equity Week 2021

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

This year, we are launching Connecticut's 3rd annual Health Equity Week from April 4-10. Health Equity Week is a week-long annual campaign created to raise awareness and start conversations about advancing health equity throughout the state of Connecticut. Join us for Health Equity Week!

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Including Equity in Vaccine Distribution

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Governor Lamont recently announced that Connecticut will continue the age-based approach to COVID-19 vaccine eligibility with a focus on equity. Health Equity Solutions continues to be dedicated to ensuring that all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity have equitable access to health and to assert that race, gender, geography, and risk should be considered in defining priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination. If your faith-based or education-focused organization is interested in hosting an outreach event, please email info@hesct.org for more information.

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Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis in Connecticut

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

The senseless deaths and violence against people of color at the hands of police and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color in Connecticut have laid bare the systemic and ever-present impact of racism. It’s time we recognize racism as the public health crisis it is. Health Equity Solutions (HES) calls on our leaders in the cities and towns throughout Connecticut to declare racism a public health crisis/emergency. Declaring racism to be a public health crisis or emergency offers a clear path to intentionally acknowledging and addressing disparities and inequities. Adopting a resolution can catalyze and authorize data analysis, and policy analysis to prevent unintentional injustices.

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Health Equity Solutions 2021 Policy Agenda

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

Health Equity Solutions' 2021 policy priorities are steps toward health equity in Connecticut. The inequities in our state are not new and it’s time that we implement proven pathways to addressing them. The pandemic’s disproportionate toll on people of color and the outcry to dismantle racism in Connecticut and across our nation highlight the need to act now. These priorities were informed by 8 listening sessions across Connecticut, with a total of 92 participants from 37 towns/cities.

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Health Equity Solutions 2020 Listening Sessions

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

To inform our 2021 legislative agenda, Health Equity Solutions conducted 8 listening sessions across Connecticut, with a total of 92 participants from 37 towns/cities. After a brief introduction, participants were assigned to break out rooms to discuss the issues they saw as most important when thinking of health equity and health care. Participants then presented a summary to the whole group and took a poll to mark their top three priorities among all topics discussed.

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Daily Department of Public Health COVID-19 Reports

by Samantha Lew, She/Her on

On March 21, 2020 the Department of Public Health produced publicly available data on COVID-19 in Connecticut. Daily reports can be found here, and include data on testing, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19.

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Connecticut Strives for Primacy of Health Equity in Primary Care

by Tekisha Dwan Everette on

Connecticut’s federally funded effort to introduce primary care innovations (through the State Innovation Model or SIM grant) is entering its final years of implementation. In the coming months, the state will present and finalize its proposals (to review and comment on proposals as they are released, see here). Right now is an opportune time to ensure these proposals can transform Connecticut’s health system to promote equity by investing in prevention and addressing social and economic factors that make some in our state far less healthy than others. This blog first appeared on Community Catalyst's Health Policy Hub written by Eva Maria Stahl, with contributing guest bloggers Tekisha Dwan Everette of Health Equity Solutions and Karen Siegel of Connecticut Voices for Children. It may also be found at https://www.communitycatalyst.org/blog/connecticut-strives-for-primacy-of-health-equity-in-primary-care#.W5FM3_ZFy3B

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It Is Time to Get REL!

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Health Equity Solutions is working with partners across the state to promote policies that expand the uniform collection of race, ethnicity and language data to inform health system change and improve health equity.

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Our vision at Health Equity Solutions is for every Connecticut resident to obtain optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. However, one of the challenges in ensuring health equity is identifying those whose lives are impacted by inequity and health disparities.

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Did you know there is legislation to statutorily define community health workers in Connecticut? SB 126, introduced by Senator Terry Gerratana, is critical legislation that would support and expand the use of community health workers in cities and towns across Connecticut.

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In 2016, we started our campaign to advocate for an end to health inequities in Connecticut, but our fight has just begun. According to the America's County Health Rankings, Connecticut ranks 42nd in health disparities. We can do better than that. The election results in November also exhibited the challenges ahead. With the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy and Medicaid cuts on the horizon, we have to double our efforts. We can’t stand by while hundreds of thousands of Connecticut families lose their access to the health care that is keeping them alive. We can’t afford to go backward when there is so much at stake...

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Last week, Connecticut residents had a tremendous emotional reaction to the change that is coming in government. Whether it was joy or sadness, the resounding feeling was that something big had happened. Over the course of this week, I pondered what it will mean for our mission at Health Equity Solutions. In short, I cannot think of a more important time to bring awareness of health inequities and offer innovative solutions to address them. Here’s why:...

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