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New Report Sheds Light on Racial Health Disparities and Highlights a Path Forward to Achieve Health Equity

Date: 08/04/21

Sacramento, Calif. – August 4, 2021 - As California emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, critical questions remain. Among the most pressing questions is how we can overcome long-standing health disparities among people of color that were illuminated by the pandemic.

Health Net, one of California's longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partners, has published a report outlining the company's comprehensive approach to these challenges. The focus of the report is California's growing population of Medi-Cal enrollees.

"Today, two-thirds of Health Net's members are Medi-Cal enrollees, a patient population with historically high rates of health disparities," said Brian Ternan, President and CEO of Health Net and California Health and Wellness. "That's why, since 2017, as the state's longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partner, we've invested over $93 million dollars to support over 500 community-based initiatives. These investments were guided by our work with local partners who've directed the money where it's needed the most. In this way, we work to fill local needs and address the priorities of the underserved communities who need the most support."

"Advancing health equity in our communities is critically important," said Sacramento County's First District Supervisor Phil Serna. "And the pandemic has brought to the forefront of our common consciousness so many glaring public health inequities that are in fact systemic. With the help of Health Net and other community stakeholders, we will continue addressing social determinants of health that disproportionately affect people of color to ensure our health care systems rightfully serve everyone."

"So many in our region are impacted by multiple crises, including COVID-19," said Dana Sherrod, MPH, Birth Equity & Racial Justice Manager, and Lead, Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies, Public Health Alliance of Southern California. "It is crucial that we center on the hardest hit communities and elevate the voices of those with lived experience. We thank Health Net for their support as we work together to improve the health of our communities."

The Challenge

As one of the country's most diverse states, California must come together to solve the health inequity issues experienced by people of color. Here's what we know:

  • Health equity encompasses a wide range of social determinants, all of which can influence health outcomes.
  • These include socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, employment, food insecurity, access to transportation and other factors.
  • Disparities continue to exist among patient populations based on race/ethnicity – in many cases, these disparities are driven by systemic racism.1
  • At Health Net, two-thirds of its members are enrolled in Medi-Cal, a patient population which has historically experienced health disparities at higher rates than other populations.

What We've Learned

After investing in multiple health equity programs and partnerships, three clear lessons emerged:

  • There is no "easy fix." Achieving equity in health is complex, and approaches that focus on a single intervention rarely succeed.
  • Investing in Community Resources Pays Off - Local partners intimately understand the distinct needs of the communities they serve. Understanding and addressing those needs and priorities is vital in driving the most impact.
  • We must lead with Cultural Competency - In California, no two communities are the same and often regional variations occur within the same ethnic groups. Therefore, a culturally relevant approach is the best approach to ensure an engaged population.

Here's the Game Plan

Based on the findings, Health Net identified the following recommendations and strategies to address health disparities:

  • Programmatic-Focused: Understand and develop tailored solutions targeted to specific patient populations and consider each social determinant of health as programs are developed.
  • Investment-Centered: Invest to support organizations who serve the communities where they operate, and work hand-in-hand to identify and fund gaps in the healthcare safety net.
  • Education-Focused: Develop culturally competent training at every level. Build teams in the communities they serve, and design healthcare roles focused on multi-cultural care.

Bridging the Divide

In conjunction with today's report, Health Net has launched, "Bridging the Divide," a website is dedicated to informing policymakers about the company's commitment to serve Medi-Cal members across the state. It also highlights the company's unique healthcare model and innovative approach that improves access to care and reduces health disparities across California.

California's Trusted Medi-Cal Partner

Health Net was founded more than 40 years ago in California and is one of the state's longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partners. With decades of experience caring for California's most vulnerable residents, the company has worked hand-in-hand with the state to build Medi-Cal and serve those who depend on its healthcare safety net.

Today, two-thirds of Health Net's members are Medi-Cal enrollees — low income adults, seniors, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and many others. We bring this focus and unmatched knowledge of the diverse and specialized needs of the people we serve, and help manage coordinated care across the Medi-Cal system, so our members don't have to.

About Health Net

At Health Net, we believe every person deserves a safety net for their health, regardless of age, income, employment status or current state of health. Founded in California more than 40 years ago, we're dedicated to transforming the health of our community, one person at a time. Today, Health Net's 2,600 employees and 85,000 network providers serve 3 million members. That's nearly 1 in 12 Californians. We provide health plans for individuals, families, businesses of every size and people who qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicare — Coverage for Every Stage of Life™. Health Net also offers access to substance abuse programs, behavioral health services, employee assistance programs and managed health care products related to prescription drugs. We offer these health plans and services through Health Net, LLC and its subsidiaries: Health Net of California, Inc., Health Net Life Insurance Company and Health Net Community Solutions, Inc. These entities are wholly owned subsidiaries of Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), a Fortune 25 company that offers affordable and high-quality products to nearly 1 in 15 individuals across the nation. For more information, visit

About California Health & Wellness

At California Health & Wellness, we believe every person deserves a safety net for their health. That is why we have been offering access to quality health coverage to Californians in 19 rural counties since 2013. In fact, we operate as part of the state's Medi-Cal Managed Care Rural Expansion program. This expansion brings health coverage to people eligible for Medi-Cal, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other programs. Headquartered in Northern California, our work is based on the core belief that access to quality healthcare is best delivered locally. We are dedicated to helping transform the communities we serve, one person at a time. That is why we partner with local, regional and community-based organizations to deliver access to healthcare, pharmacy, vision and transportation services for our members. California Health & Wellness is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC), a Fortune 100 company providing health coverage to more than 20 million Americans.


Last Updated: 09/13/2021