SACRAMENTO, CA / ACCESSWIRE / November 12, 2020 / The serious social, economic, and cultural challenges we face as a nation - all made worse by the ongoing pandemic - require multiple approaches and the involvement of government, private enterprise, and nonprofit organizations, ideally working in coordination. Health care inequities, homelessness, food insecurity, racial inequity, and economic stresses and job losses are among the key challenges demanding the most urgent work. In most cases these ongoing problems have been magnified in unprecedented levels by the coronavirus pandemic.
"As a nonprofit, tax exempt organization, Kaiser Permanente has dedicated itself to improving the social health of its 12.2 million members and the tens of millions more people who live in the communities it serves," said Dr. Cynthia Telles, Community Health Committee chair for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors. "A major part of that commitment is making investments that directly take on these serious challenges."
The nation's largest integrated health plan and care delivery system recently released highlights of its community health accomplishments in 2019. The organization reports concrete steps to help support the mental, physical, and social health of its members and communities. Key programs include:
Thrive Local: This program enables health care providers to connect people with available community resources to help them live healthier and fuller lives.
Food for Life: A landmark initiative to help increase food security on a national scale. In the first 6 months after launch, Food for Life reached more than 600,000 Kaiser Permanente member households to help those who are eligible apply for benefits.
Housing for Health: Chronic homelessness can cut 27 years from a person's life and well before becoming homeless, people who struggle with high housing costs can also have trouble paying for food and medical care. Kaiser Permanente believes that it and other health care organizations can play a key role in the effort to help solve the affordable housing and homelessness crisis.
Thriving Schools: This initiative supports the physical, social, and emotional health of students, teachers, and school staff to help create healthy, positive learning environments for all. Plans are in place to expand these social health efforts in schools related to food insecurity, housing, and economic supports.
Economic Opportunity: Acknowledging that jobs and other economic opportunities are foundational to healthy communities, Kaiser Permanente supports local economic opportunities through its own business decisions and practices, as well as through partnerships with community-based organizations. It has invested in economic opportunities in underserved communities, and established a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing a large network of certified health care workers.
Environmental Stewardship: Kaiser Permanente has kept a multi-year focus on maintaining a healthy environment for all, building on its renewable energy efforts which ultimately allowed it to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral in 2020.
In addition to the initiatives and areas of focus above, Kaiser Permanente worked to strengthen its efforts and make progress toward improving health in schools and cities, serving our communities through charitable coverage and care, Medicaid, and other government programs. We provided high-quality care to nearly 977,000 members through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and gave nearly $577 million in assistance to cover part or all of the medical expenses for nearly a half-million low-income, uninsured or underinsured patients through its Medical Financial Assistance program. In total, Kaiser Permanente gave nearly $3.4 billion to support community health.
"We built strong foundations for our work to house homeless individuals and invest in affordable housing, increase access to nutritious, affordable food, and foster real economic opportunity in our communities," Dr. Cynthia Telles wrote in an introduction to this community health report. "Kaiser Permanente will continue its work to meet the formidable community health challenges facing our society. We remain resolute as our organization deepens its 75-year commitment to equity and inclusion, supporting the fight for equal opportunity and social justice for all."
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SOURCE: Cynthia Telles