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Webinar: Health Equity and Disability

Click here for a full transcript of the webinar.

According to The Missing Billion, disabled people are three times as likely to be denied health care and four times more likely to be mistreated by the health care system. And now, the COVID-19 pandemic has further laid bare systemic ableism in the health care system. To successfully achieve health equity, we must focus on the issues through a disability lens. Join California Wellness Foundation CEO Judy Belk in conversation with Andrés J. Gallegos, Esq., Chairman of the National Council on Disability, and Dr. Poorna Kushalnagar, Director of the Center for Deaf Health Equity at Gallaudet University, to learn about disability and access to health care and to explore philanthropy’s role in supporting meaningful change.

This webinar was the second of a four-part series focusing on the connections between disability and key social justice issues, made possible by the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. We encourage you to visit our curated selection of resources on connections between health equity and disability.

About the Panelists

Moderator: Judy Belk, CEO of the California Wellness Foundation and member of the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy

is president and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness), one of California’s largest public health philanthropic institutions. With nearly $1 billion in assets, Cal Wellness awards approximately $43 million annually in grants and program-related investments that promote health equity, justice and advocacy for communities and individuals whose lives and wellness are too often determined by their race, income, immigration status or where they live. Belk leads the foundation in pursuing its mission to protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California, with a core belief that access to quality health care is a human right.

Panelist: Andrés J. Gallegos, Esq., Chairman, National Council on Disability

Andrés J. Gallegos, Esq. is the Chairman of the National Council on Disability. He is a shareholder with the law firm of Robbins, Salomon and Patt, Ltd., in Chicago, Illinois, where he focuses his practice on disability rights and healthcare law. He founded and directs the law firm’s national disability rights practice, which has as its emphasis improving access to healthcare and wellness programs for persons across all types of disabilities. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Directors of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago’s Center for Independent Living, and is a two-term past-member of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, having been appointed by the governor. He is also a board member of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Institute, a Chicago-based non-for profit whose mission is to increase civic engagement and diverse leadership in the Chicago region by developing and building a network of leaders with disabilities. He is the 2015 recipient of the Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. He has written numerous articles for national and state professional healthcare and legal organizations on matters relating to the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to healthcare providers, and is a highly-sought out lecturer on accessible healthcare and disability rights. He graduated with Honors from the University of Southern Mississippi, with a B.S. in Business Administration, and he attained a Juris Doctorate from the St. Louis University School of Law. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving honorably for 14 years.

Click here to view an excerpt of Chairman Gallegos speaking about ableism in the medical field.

Panelist: Dr. Poorna Kushalnagar, Director, Center for Deaf Health Equity at Gallaudet University

Dr. Poorna Kushalnagar directs the Center for Deaf Health Equity at Gallaudet University and works as the Special Assistant to the Provost for Research and Engagement. She is the principal investigator of grants funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) that total over $3.5 million dollars. These grants support studies aligned with her primary research interests in deaf health equity and patient reported outcomes research. She was recently invited to participate as a member of the RWJF People with Disabilities Expert Panel to transform public health data systems to advance health equity. She received her B.A. in Psychology at Gallaudet University; M.A. in Psychology at the University of Houston; and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of Houston. She completed a NIH diversity postdoctoral training in patient reported outcomes research at the Seattle Quality of Life Center at University of Washington and a NIH T32 postdoctoral fellowship in preventive medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Click here to view an excerpt of Dr. Kushalnagar speaking about the need for disabled leadership in research funding efforts.