Bakersfield, Calif. – Organizations, advocates, students and families delivered a simple message during a recent press event at the Liberty Bell: health is more than health care and everyone, particularly the most vulnerable members of our community, is at risk.

As an example, residents, in partnership with Building Healthy Communities South Kern including Faith in the Valley, Dignity Health’s Community Health Initiative, Clinica Sierra Vista, Vision y Compromiso, California Partnership, say that the expansion of Medi-Cal has helped boost the regional economy by creating new jobs and providing people with basic preventative services. Specifically, in Kern County, if life-saving health coverage were to be reduced or dramatically cut, we could:

  • Lose health insurance for about 160,000 children, seniors and working family members;

  • Get rid of about 14,700 jobs and;

  • Rip about $305 million from our local economy

“We want to educate our fellow Kern County residents about what it means to create a healthy Kern County,” said Lorena Lara of Faith in the Valley Kern. “Cutting health care will hurt real families directly and hurt all of us indirectly by crushing our economy.”

Family financial stability advocates also say that the proposed changes currently being considered to our tax system would have devastating consequences for the economic health of our communities. For example, abolishing deductions for state/local taxes and itemized charitable deductions, which would sharply raise Californians’ tax bill, will hurt our capacity to invest in the things that matter most to us.

“We already know that over 80% of all donations made nationally come from individuals—not foundations or corporations,” said Jill Egland, Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of Kern County. “Those same numbers hold true for us here in Kern. Furthermore, we’re not just talking about contributions from the very wealthy. We’re talking about the bulk of charitable investment coming from working- and middle-class incomes. Reducing or abolishing these deductions? We’ll feel it here, most definitely, in our loss of ability to invest in our parks, our schools, our places of worship, our emergency relief efforts. We need to empower communities. Not cripple them.”

BHC-SK is a broad collaborative of community groups and organizations, public agencies, residents, and youth leaders who are partnering and advocating towards community and health equity in Kern’s underserved communities.                                     


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