FROM THE PRESIDENT
Greetings Friends of LCHE:
Louisiana is a special place unlike any other and is home to over 4.6 million residents. Its food and music, cultural heritage, subtropical climate, and historical landmarks make it a popular tourist attraction both nationally and internationally. However, many Louisiana residents experience disparities that significantly impact their quality of life and leave them prone to poor health. During 2020, unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the aftermath of natural disasters along Louisiana’s southwest region made these disparities even more pronounced.
Presently, I am reminded of and challenged by my desire that all Louisianans be afforded the opportunity to live healthy lives. In keeping with that desire, I am pleased about our LA40by2030 initiative, a bold, strategic approach to improving Louisiana’s health ranking to 40th by the year 2030.
Since our journey began, LCHE has played a significant role in advocating for better health outcomes and is recognized as the preeminent voice for health equity. LCHE’s most noteworthy undertaking was successfully leading Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion efforts as the convenor of the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone-Louisiana. As the first state in the Deep South to adopt this policy, Louisiana positioned itself as a trailblazer, initially providing health coverage to over 500,000 adults who had previously been caught in the coverage gap and significantly more during the COVID 19 Pandemic. Our journey included testifying during countless legislative hearings, rallying supporters at the state Capitol, hosting community forums, vigils and so much more. Thousands joined the movement in a groundswell of support for Medicaid expansion. On their behalf, representing LCHE and the Campaign, I was honored to stand beside Governor John Bel Edwards as he signed the Executive Order for Medicaid expansion on January 13, 2016.
Since 2016, LCHE has continued to make strides toward improving Louisiana’s health outcomes including accepting Governor Edwards’ appointment to the Louisiana COVID-19 Task Force, collaboratively working to improve conditions for North Baton Rouge youth who have asthma through the Bringing Respiratory Health Equity for Asthmatics Through Healthier Environments (BREATHE) Initiative, advocating for trauma informed and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) services and resources, launch of the Check-In Series, launch of LA REACH, expanding the Youth Peace Olympics program and more. Currently, LCHE’s Founder and President, Alma Stewart Allen, was the winner of 2022 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity presented by the National Civic League (RWJF-NCL Health Equity Award). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity celebrates individuals who have changed systems and policies at a local level to increase the chance that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Additionally, in 2022, LCHE and partners of the Campaign to Establish Louisiana Office on Women’s Health celebrated the passage of legislation creating the first Louisiana Office on Women’s Health. In 2023, LCHE released the Student Behavior, Mental Health, and Discipline Task Force Report in response to House Resolution 173. This Task Force was charged with reviewing policies related to student behavior, mental health and discipline to help address the mental health crisis among Louisiana's youth.
Though Louisiana has made significant progress, there is still much work to be done to create a more equitable and healthier state. Therefore, the journey we began in 2010 continues. I asked you to join me then and many of you did. For that, I am eternally grateful, and I’m asking again. Let’s continue moving forward.
Together, we are making a difference!
Alma C. Stewart Allen, RN, MS, CCHC
Founder and President
Louisiana Center for Health Equity