ICO Congregations and Health Care
ICO has worked diligently almost since its creation, with our member congregations and through our PICO California and national networks, to expand health care coverage for all greater Long Beach families and children.
As the 2005 UCLA California Health Survey documented, some 6.5 million California residents, more than 15 percent of all children and non-elderly adults in the state, lack health insurance. More than three-quarters of a million of these are children. ICO has collaborated with PICO affiliates across California through the PICO California Project to improve access to health care for the uninsured. These efforts included:
- Joining 3,000 PICO California community leaders in Sacramento in May 2000 to urge the State to expand health care coverage, resulting in increased funding for community health clinics and changes to the Medi-Cal program to expand coverage.
- Faxing 900 letters to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson in December 2000 calling on him to approve a waiver request to add parents to the Healthy Families program, which he did one month later.
- Outreach through congregations to enroll uninsured children and families in the state's Healthy Kids and Healthy Families programs.
- Advocating for the dedication of tobacco settlement funds to programs to help the uninsured, and gathering 4,200 signatures to put Proposition 86, a tobacco tax, on the November 2006 ballot, where it was defeated by voters.
As opportunities arise, such as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment in January 2007 to achieving universal health care coverage in California, ICO will continue to engage at the state level through rallies and meetings with individual legislators.
At the federal level, ICO has collaborated with PICO National Network affiliates in support of preserving and securing additional funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).
In an effort to get a clearer fix on the extent of the health insurance crisis in Long Beach, ICO in 2007 launched a survey through 10 local churches. The survey reached more than 1,000 households comprising close to 4,000 residents, and the congregations that participated were well distributed across the city. The results loosely mirrored those of the UCLA California Health Survey for Los Angeles County, with one-quarter of respondents indicating they lacked health insurance, and one-third of households including at least one uninsured member.