California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his May Revise budget proposal on May 14, outlining the budget projections and expenditure estimates for priority items established in January. Among these items is a prodigious investment in Community Health Workers (CHWs), designating this vital role as a Medi-Cal covered service.
CHWs have been a proven vehicle in reducing unnecessary ER visits while serving poor and uninsured patients. A clinical trial out of Massachusetts General Hospital found that CHW interventions reduce hospital readmissions and improve preventative care among ‘clinically complex’ patients. Patients who are considered ‘clinically complex’ include people with chronic illnesses or conditions that require ongoing medical attention. Within the 65,000 shortage of allied healthcare workers in California, CHWs are a key asset in helping patients like these, as well as those within underserved and disadvantaged communities.
While the positive impact of CHWs has been recognized, the May Revise tackles an important hurdle that has impeded past CHW investment efforts. The May Revise outlines CHWs as a service that will be reimbursed under Medi-Cal, which will provide an incentive for many clinics and hospitals to hire CHWs to deliver care. This marks an important milestone in enhancing access and addressing barriers to patient health outcomes. Governor Newsom also included other vital patient advocate roles, such as doulas, under Medi-Cal coverage.
According to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, CHWs “have lived experience and strong empathy with the diverse communities they serve. CHWs provide vital education and navigation assistance, and can bridge gaps in communication and reduce health and mental health disparities experienced by vulnerable communities in California.”
The investment is great news for those choosing to enter CHW careers, like the students enrolling in Futuro Health’s new program. Futuro Health has advocated for the importance of CHWs and other allied health positions as a means to address racial and societal equity gaps in healthcare. These middle-skill roles are often underinvested, yet represent one of the largest workforce shortages in the state. The May Revise signals growing opportunities for Futuro Health CHW trainees upon program completion. While there exists multiple CHW training options available, Futuro Health is underwriting adults with tuition-free scholarships to attend an accredited program where CHWs gain behavioral health training as part of their credential
For more information on the Community Health Worker Program with Behavioral Health Emphasis at Futuro Health, please visit the Futuro Health catalog.