New Community Wellness Center in S.B.
By Dianne Anderson
There might be a surprise or two coming this time next year when folks get hit with a state fine on their tax returns because they didn’t sign up for Covered California on time.
Linda Hart with the African American Health Coalition doesn’t want to see that happen in the community.
To avoid the penalty, everyone needs to be in the healthcare system before January 31.
“You will get it taken out of your income tax,” she said. “The most important is the penalty, but you need insurance for your health, for prevention and intervention.”
For those who haven’t signed up yet, she said it’s not too late.
“Generally speaking, the penalty will be $695 or more when you file your 2020 state income tax return in 2021. The penalty for a dependent child is half of what it would be for an adult. A typical family of four that goes uninsured for the whole year would face a penalty of at least $2,000,” according to the Covered California website.
Hart said the good news is that there are several expanded Covered California services, some include specialized projects. For people who are bedridden, or with a disability, or those with a mental illness, doctors may be able to come out to provide patient visits.
Especially for the special needs population, she said many are still are not aware of the variety of options available. “They come right to your home for individuals that are homebound, that’s amazing,” she said. “But you have to sign up with the right insurance. The services are getting more personalized.”
Hart is encouraging anyone who still hasn’t signed up to call 866-761-4165 where they can talk with one of their certified Covered California outreach workers.
Everything can be done over the phone. She suggests to shop for the best fit.
A lot of insurances now are lowering their premiums to make themselves more attractive, she said, “There is a push to make sure people are covered with some type of insurance. Everybody must be insured.”
This year, the African American Health Coalition is also offering more mentally healthy services and a safe environment to decompress and de-stress.
Starting the second week of February, the community is invited to drop in, meditate, bring a yoga mat, and start the new year off in a stress-free zone. Classes will be led by local experts, held New Hope Family Life Center at the African American Health Coalition, Ste 19., located at 1505 W. Highland Ave. in San Bernardino.
Last year, Hart held a seminar at Cal State University, San Bernardino, featuring psychologist Sayida Peprah, who spoke on her research about the negative impact of historical trauma and oppression on the Black family dynamic.
“It was phenomenal. We hope we can get more people involved and coming out so that we can see exactly how social conditioning relates to our attitudes and behaviors today,” she said.
Hart is founder of the African American Health Coalition. She offers regular community workshops, at-home presentations, outreach worker trainings, and peer-led support groups.
The AAHC Community Wellness Center is in recognition of African American Mental Health Awareness Week, a statewide resolution proposed by Hart. The resolution passed in 2010 under former Assemblymember Wilma Amina Carter (D-Rialto) to implement Mental Health Awareness in the Black community.
The center is accessible for community members to come in, learn and gain access to stress reduction techniques.
“We’ll have support groups, such as connecting families, a program will through [partner] Department of Behavioral Health,” Hart added.
Other groups have been able to heal, like the Jews through their Holocaust survivors networks. She’d like to see that kind of support system in place for the Black community.
“We haven’t gotten to that place yet. I want to set up the opportunity where people can come in heal through the holistic approach.”
For more information on Covered California or other health services, call 866-761-4165 or go to www.theaamhc.org