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Trans Inclusive Care Act passes California Senate Health Committee

SB 923 comes at a time when LGTBQ people are under attack across the country from extremist right-wing leaders

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California Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of California)

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 923, the TGI Inclusive Care Act passed the Senate Health Committee by a vote of 8-2. It will now head the Senate Appropriations Committee.

This first in the nation legislation requires physicians to undergo evidence-based  cultural competency education to help them provide inclusive care for transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGI) people.

This legislation comes at a time when trans kids and trans people are under attack across the country by right-wing state leaders. In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order making it illegal for parents to allow their trans kids to receive gender-affirming care. These parents could have their children taken away or be sent to prison, simply for allowing their children to be who they are and receive this necessary care.

Abbott called gender-affirming care “child abuse.” In Florida, just this week, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, banning discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation from public school classrooms.

“What’s happening in Texas and Florida is simply horrifying,” said Senator Wiener. “We cannot let gender-affirming care and LGTBQ rights become a politicized issue, with LGTBQ kids caught in the crosshairs. SB 923 will ensure that California providers treat patients with the culturally competent and respectful care that they deserve. This legislation will set a new standard nationwide for what truly inclusive gender-affirming care looks like.”

While LGBTQ kids are under attack in Texas and Florida, SB 923 shows a different path forward: one in which quality gender-affirming care is provided for anyone who needs it, and one in which providers treat TGI patients with the respect and care they deserve.

SB 923 specifies that the required cultural competency curriculum must be facilitated by a working group of representatives from at least three TGI-serving organizations and appointees from state agencies to develop a quality standard for patience experience. SB 923 also ensures that health plans include a list of in-network providers who offer gender-affirming services. This legislation will help create a more inclusive and culturally competent healthcare system for TGI people across California.

Healthcare discrimination and a lack of access to culturally competent care is a major problem that many TGI people regularly face. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that one-third of all transgender individuals who saw a healthcare professional in 2014 had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, with even higher rates for people of color and people with disabilities. These negative experiences include being refused treatment, verbally harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or having to teach the provider about transgender people in order to receive appropriate care.[1]

This is especially problematic given that TGI people, compared with the general population, suffer from more chronic health conditions. TGI people experience higher rates of health problems related to HIV/AIDS, substance use, mental illness, and sexual and physical violence, as well as a higher prevalence and earlier onset of disabilities that can also lead to longterm health issues. Sadly, 23% of transgender individuals reported that fear of discrimination caused them to postpone or not receive necessary medical care.[2]

Every person deserves to receive quality, compassionate health care from understanding, informed, and respectful providers – providers who don’t make assumptions about their gender or sexuality, and who honor their bodily autonomy. TGI people already face so many obstacles outside of the healthcare system, including higher rates of violence, workplace discrimination, ostracization from families and religious communities, and housing discrimination. Going to the doctor should not mean facing additional discrimination or unecessary hardship.

TGI people should have access to positive healthcare experiences. This includes seeing providers who are able to give them the care they need in a non-judgmental and supportive environment, and being able to search for providers who provide gender-affirming services (gender-affirming services include but are not limited to: chest reconstruction, mastectomy, facial feminization surgery, hysterectomy, voice masculinization or feminization, hormone therapy related to gender dysphoria or intersex conditions, gender-affirming gynecological care, or voice therapy related to gender dysphoria or intersex conditions). Gender-affirming care is critically important health care, and anyone who needs it should be able to find and access it.

Finally, SB 923 requires health plans to have an accessible website and available call center that allows patients to easily find providers who offer gender-affirming care. While all health plans are required to cover gender-affirming care, it can be difficult for TGI patients to actually find providers who routinely offer this care. This is a major impediment to TGI people accessing the care they need.

The TGI-Inclusive Care Act will help create a healthcare system that meets the needs of TGI people, and provide a more positive patient experience.

SB 923 is sponsored by the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network,  Equality California, National Health Law Program Trans Community Project, TransFamily Support Services & Western Center on Law & Poverty. It is coauthored by Assemblymembers Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Evan Low (D-San Jose) and Alex Lee (D-Fremont). Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) is principal co-author.

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[1] The National Center for Transgender Equality, “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey”. Accessed at: https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS-Full-Report-Dec17.pdf.

[2] The National Center for Transgender Equality

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California

Newsom gets second booster dose, urges eligible Californians to get theirs

California’s vaccination strategy has saved tens of thousands of lives and prevented even more cases and hospitalizations

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Governor Newsom receives his second Moderna booster dose (Office of the Governor)

BAKERSFIELD – Amid rising COVID-19 cases across the country, and following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization of a booster dose for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds, Governor Gavin Newsom today received his second Moderna booster at a clinic in Bakersfield, and encouraged all eligible Californians to get boosted to keep their immunity strong against COVID-19.

The second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine is available to all Californians 50 and older, as well as those who are immunocompromised or received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Vaccines have saved tens of thousands of lives in California, and with COVID-19 still prevalent, we can’t afford to let our guard down,” said Newsom. “The best protection against serious illness and hospitalization is getting vaccinated and boosted. I encourage all eligible Californians to get your second booster – for you, for your family, for your friends, for your community.” 

Under the Newsom Administration’s SMARTER Plan, the state maintains operational readiness to continue the fight against COVID-19 and respond quickly, including the ability to administer 200,000 vaccinations and 500,000 tests per day. The California Blueprint includes another $2.4 billion for COVID response, which ensures California will be on the best possible footing against future waves.

According to a study analyzing California’s pandemic response, COVID-19 vaccines prevented an estimated 1.5 million coronavirus infections, nearly 73,000 hospitalizations, and almost 20,000 deaths in California.

The Governor received his booster shot at Clinica Sierra Vista, one of hundreds of health clinic locations around the state where people can receive their free vaccine and booster. The Governor was joined today by California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and community and local leaders who have supported vaccine equity efforts in the region. To date, Clinica Sierra Vista has administered nearly 100,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses.

“Vaccines remain the best protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Our state, like much of the nation, is beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 transmission. Fortunately, thanks to California’s robust vaccination efforts, we are seeing relatively low hospitalization rates,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary. “This underscores the efficacy and importance of staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. Californians age 50 and over are encouraged to get their additional booster dose to keep their immunity strong and strengthen their protection against COVID-19.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, the statewide test positivity rate is 5 percent as of Tuesday, about double the positivity rate a month prior, with some regions seeing positivity rates as high as 9 percent. Unvaccinated people are 4.8 times more likely to get COVID-19 than fully vaccinated individuals who are boosted. Unvaccinated people are also 6.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than boosted individuals, and 7.8 times more likely to die than boosted individuals.

California’s response to COVID-19 has led the nation with the lowest COVID death rate among the country’s most populous states. More than 8 in 10 Californians have received at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 15.5 million Californians have received their first booster dose, representing 59.1 percent of those eligible for a booster. Additionally, 22 percent of eligible Californians have received their second booster dose. 

The state’s Vaccinate ALL 58 campaign continues to focus on driving vaccine efforts in lower-income and non-English speaking communities with cultural competency and in-language outreach and education. Its community-based organization network, in partnership with philanthropy, is now standing at over 700 organizations and supports outreach and appointment assistance efforts.

Clinica Sierra Vista is a comprehensive health care organization serving the primary medical, dental, and behavioral health needs of about 200,000 people in Kern and Fresno counties. With the continued support of federal, state, and local governments, they have been able to reach out to thousands of new patients, offering comprehensive programs tailored to the needs of those they serve over a vast geographical region in the heartland of California.

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California

Newsom highlights state & local action to combat drought

At a Los Angeles County Water Recycling Facility, Newsom called on Californians to take immediate action to avoid a crisis

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At MWD water recycling facility in LA, Governor Newsom highlights drought action. (Office of the Governor)

CARSON – Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Metropolitan Water District of Southern California water recycling facility Tuesday to discuss the administration’s response to the ongoing megadrought affecting the western United States.

January through March were the driest first three months in the state’s recorded history, the state’s largest reservoirs are currently at half of their historical averages, and the state’s snowpack is just 17 percent of average. Governor Newsom called on local water agencies and Californians to step up and take action to conserve water.

“California will need to use every tool in its toolbox to safeguard our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the severe, climate-driven drought being felt throughout the West,” said Newsom. “The state is taking urgent action to tackle drought impacts, drive water savings, and empower local water agencies to step up conservation measures across the state. All of us must take aggressive action to meet these challenges head-on while we work to build a climate-resilient water system.”

Governor Newsom has taken swift action to combat the drought conditions, including extending the drought emergency statewide last October and in March, issuing an executive order calling on water agencies to implement, at a minimum, Level 2 of their drought contingency plans to achieve water use reductions in response to a supply shortage of up to 20 percent.

In addition, under proposed emergency regulations by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the local agencies that have not yet adopted conservation plans, covering just 8 percent of the state’s population, will be compelled to take steps to achieve water use reduction with steps like limiting outdoor water use. 

(Office of the Governor)

The Governor’s March order was based on lessons learned from the last drought including that conservation actions are most impactful when imposed at the local level, based on regional needs and behaviors, and can be an effective means to achieve statewide conservation goals.
 
In response to the Governor’s direction, many local water agencies, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), have taken aggressive action to combat the drought. While an overwhelming majority of the state’s water agencies have drought plans at the ready, plans covering about 50 percent of California residents have not yet been activated at the level urged by the Governor.
 
On May 13, the SWRCB released draft regulations that will require all local water suppliers to implement Level 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans, and compel those that have not developed their own plan to take the following steps:   

  • Limit outdoor water use to two days per week.
  • Ban watering during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Ban irrigating ornamental grass at business and commercial sites.
  • Enforce fines of up to $500 a day for districts and corporations not in compliance. 

 The draft regulations will be considered by SWRCB at their May 24 meeting and, if adopted and then approved by the Office of Administrative Law, will ensure all local plans are in effect by June 10. The SWRCB also will consider regulations banning the watering of decorative grass at business and institutions, which the Governor’s March order directed the Board to consider. 

The state is calling on Californians to take immediate action to avoid a crisis, including: 

  • Limiting outdoor watering – on average, each time you water your yard equals about 240 flushes or 13 full laundry loads (for a washer that uses 30 gallons per load).
  • Taking shorter showers. Going to a 5 minute shower to save up to 12.5 gallons per shower when using a water-efficient shower head. 
  • Taking showers instead of baths – a bath uses up to 2.5 times the amount of water as a shower.
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor areas to save 6 gallons of water every minute.
  • Washing full loads of clothes to save 15-45 gallons of water per load.
(Office of the Governor)

The Governor’s California Blueprint proposed this year would invest an additional $2 billion for drought response, which includes $100 million in addition to a previous investment of $16 million this fiscal year for a statewide education and communications effort on drought. These investments build on the previous $5.2 billion three-year investment in the state’s drought response and water resilience through the California Comeback Plan (2021). 

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California

California’s minimum wage is projected to increase to $15.50 per hour

The wage increase will benefit millions of households that are struggling to keep pace with the highest rate of inflation in decades

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Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California

SACRAMENTO – California’s minimum wage is projected to increase to $15.50 per hour for all workers on January 1, 2023. The accelerated increase is required by a provision in the state’s existing minimum wage law when inflation exceeds 7 percent. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in persistent supply chain disruptions and labor market frictions have driven inflation to its highest rate in 40 years. These conditions have further been exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine. 
 
The wage increase will benefit millions of California households that are struggling to keep pace with the highest rate of inflation in decades. For years, the state minimum wage has increased steadily while inflation numbers remained modest.

As people throughout the country face increasing costs due to global inflation, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced an $18.1 billion inflation relief package to get money into the pockets of Californians.

“We enacted the most comprehensive economic stimulus program in the nation last year, getting billions in immediate relief to millions of Californians. But many folks are still struggling, especially with high costs due to inflation, so we’re leveraging this historic surplus to get money back into the pockets of Californians,” said Governor Newsom. “This inflation relief package will help offset the higher costs that Californians are facing right now and provide support to those still recovering from the pandemic.”

Governor Newsom’s inflation relief package includes:

  • $11.5 Billion for Tax Refunds to Help Address Inflation. As the entire country faces increasing costs due to inflation, Governor Newsom proposed getting $400 checks to every eligible registered vehicle owner, capped at two checks per individual.
  • $2.7 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance. Governor Newsom is proposing significant state funds for qualified low-income tenants who requested rental assistance before March 31, helping these Californians get the support they need.
  • $1.4 Billion to Help Californians Pay Past-Due Utility Bills. As Californians continue to face difficulties in paying for utility bills, this investment expands upon last year’s utility relief program to continue this vital support – $1.2 billion for electricity bills and $200 million for water bills. 
  • $933 Million for Hospital and Nursing Home Staff. Providing up to $1,500 to hospital and skilled nursing facility workers who have been delivering care to the most acute patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and saved thousands of lives.
  • $750 Million for Free Public Transit. Governor Newsom is proposing incentive grants to provide three months of free public transportation for communities throughout the state. 
  • $304 Million to Make Health Coverage More Affordable for Middle-Class Families. This extends health insurance premium assistance under Covered California for families of four earning up to $166,500 annually, upwards of 700,000 Californians.
  • $439 Million to Pause the Diesel Sales Tax. Bringing relief to the commercial sector and drivers, Governor Newsom is proposing a 12-month pause in the sales tax rate for diesel fuel that would provide upwards of $439 million in relief.
  • $157 Million to Waive Child Care Fees for Low-Income Families. Making state-subsidized preschool and child care more affordable, benefitting 40,000 low-income California families with savings of up to $595 per month.  

“Package includes direct payments to help address costs of rising inflation and past-due water and utility bills, free public transit, money for health care workers, middle-class health care subsidies, and waiving child care fees for families”

This inflation relief package builds off of Governor Newsom’s nation-leading stimulus package last year, which helped accelerate California’s economic recovery and support those hit hardest by the pandemic, including:

  • Golden State Stimulus checks for 2 out of every 3 Californians. The Governor created the biggest state tax rebate in American history, expanding direct payments to middle-class families, with $9 billion in stimulus payments delivered directly to middle-class Californians and families.
  • Largest statewide renter and utility assistance program in the country. Governor Newsom put forth a plan to distribute $5.4 billion to help low-income renters and landlords, as well as $2 billion for past-due utility bills like water and electricity.
  • Largest small businesses relief program in the nation. The Governor invested $4 billion in direct grants to California’s small businesses – on top of $6.2 billion in tax relief – putting more money directly into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of small business owners and helping them re-hire workers displaced by the pandemic.
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