Health Centers Prepare for the 2020 Census

The U.S. Census provides critical data to inform how the federal government and the states match funding for programs to the needs of the people in different states and communities, as well as to determine equitable political representation. These high-stakes decisions must be based on complete and accurate data. For every Census, there is always the risk of an undercount, but for Census 2020, the chances of an undercount are more likely due to the Department of Commerce’s controversial plan to add a citizenship question. This will undoubtedly deter low-income immigrant and minority-headed households from participating in the Census. As such, California faces the greatest barriers in the nation to ensure an accurate count and thus receive a fair share of federal funding and Congressional representation.

The state must reach more than 13.5 million households in order to raise awareness of the 2020 Census and motivate the hardest to count Californians to respond. The results from the Census help to push for more resources in communities and guide the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal funding to programs that are crucial to the well-being of families and communities, such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Substance Abuse Block Grant and the Social Services Block Grant.

CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates has been in close contact with the state Census staff to ensure health centers are recognized as key partners. The state recognizes that partnering with health centers is particularly important because they are a trusted community voice.  The state has already asked for – and been provided - data regarding health center patient demographics.

California’s community health centers are well positioned to reach nearly 7 million people – a good percentage of which may be deterred from participating in Census 2020 because of their immigration status or the immigration status of family members. Health centers have an opportunity to influence the engagement of a critical block of Californians, thereby helping to secure much needed resources to the state and local communities, as well as advance the Newsom Administration’s priorities, and further prove the power of the health center network.

Advocates is working closely with the state Census, CPCA, and the regional consortia to develop a comprehensive education and outreach plan to encourage all community health center patients to participate in the 2020 Census.


Title X Family Planning Program

In May, President Trump and his Administration issued a draft regulation that would dramatically change the Title X program, limiting how Title X providers can counsel patients, as well as effectively blocking providers that provide abortions from participating in the program. A particularly troubling portion of this rule prohibits any Title X provider from counseling about or referring for abortion services, even when the patient specifically requests information about abortion. Physicians serving in community health centers pride themselves on providing comprehensive health care, which includes information about all medical options. This ban on counseling and referral services would force physicians to provide less-than-complete medical advice, and many health centers will choose to cease participating in Title X rather than force their physicians to provide incomplete care.

CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates worked to garner as many public comments as possible opposing changes to Title X. Ultimately, over 100,000 comments were submitted nationally in opposition to the draft regulation, and the final rule was published in February of 2019.

Following the release of the new regulation, on February 27, President and CEO Carmela Castellano-Garcia joined Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Senator Connie M. Leyva, President and CEO of Essential Access Health Julie Rabinovitz, and General Counsel of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Maggie Krell for a Statewide Coalition Call on the Title X program. The discussion focused on the changes to the Title X regulations, the potential impact the regulations could have in California, and next steps for action. 

After months of continued advocacy in opposition of the final regulation and after preliminary injunction motions were filed by Essential Access Health and the state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen granted a preliminary injunction to block the Trump administration’s harmful regulations from taking effect in California, which is a huge win for community health centers and patients. Advocates will continue to work with Essential Access Health, the state’s Title X administrator, and other partners to oppose changes made to the Title X program that impact access to care.