Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP) is a nonproﬁt with over 25 years of experience in the California health policy landscape. We bring together unique stakeholders in ways others cannot and do not by creating connections, educational opportunities, and resources across sectors, geographies, program policy areas, and levels of government. The mission of ITUP is to promote innovative and workable policy solutions that expand health care access and improve the health of all Californians.
Each year ITUP convenes regional and statewide workgroups in California focused on learning from local health leaders on timely health care policy and implementation topics. In 2020 and 2021, ITUP facilitated workgroup discussions on the impacts of COVID-19 response eﬀorts in their communities. One of the most prevalent insights from workgroup participants during the pandemic was how even with policy barriers removed, communities were unable to access telehealth because of a lack of suﬃcient, aﬀordable, and equitable broadband and connectivity. While the pandemic magniﬁed digital inequities i, among many others, these barriers existed long before the pandemic and will persist beyond the crisis, becoming an even bigger barrier in a health care system that depends on technology and connectivity.
Without aﬀordable connectivity, devices, and digital literacy, the health sector will not achieve the promise of virtual care; be able to leverage forward-thinking technology; and/or, make meaningful use of data and data exchange for many of California’s communities.
Building upon this work, ITUP has become a leader in bridging the knowledge gap between health care and broadband advocates, bringing California’s health sector stakeholders to broadband, connectivity, and digital equity conversations at the state and local levels. ITUP’s broad network of over 4,000 individuals, including local health care sector partners and state level advocates and legislative staﬀ, ITUP has been instrumental in championing a voice for health care in broadband and digital equity policy.
Over the past three years, ITUP has built a track record as a trusted source of information and education on digital barriers to health, creating multiple resources on the intersection of broadband and health care, opportunities to address digital equity and ways for the health care sector to engage at state and local levels to close the digital divide and break down digital barriers to health.
II. Purpose/ Scope-of-Work Summary
CETF funded ITUP to conduct strategic outreach to key California state government agencies to engage them in efforts to close the digital divide, including the California Department of Technology’s (CDT) Broadband for All initiative and adoption of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This work supported the goals of CETF’s “Action Plan for Telehealth”, which include: 1) enacting legislation to permanently reimburse telehealth service comparable to in-person visits; 2) investing in and ensuring ubiquitous high-speed Internet infrastructure to support telehealth for all patients and providers, and 3) institutionalizing telehealth, with accountability, for improving patient outcomes and overall population health.
The partnership between CETF and ITUP, and this grant, supported ITUP’s work addressing and breaking down digital barriers to health. Such barriers are the largest to making telehealth more accessible and equitable and in CETF’s quest to institutionalize telehealth, create and advance policy solutions to truly leverage telehealth for better health outcomes among California’s vastly diverse communities. Where CETF has the longstanding expertise and eﬀort on broadband and connectivity work in California, ITUP is a trusted expert and leader in California’s health care delivery system—making the partnership and the work this grant supports invaluable for the cross-sectoral approach needed to advance digital equity and ensure equitable and quality access to telehealth for all Californians.