Why This Work Matters
Latino/x Californians play a vital role in the state’s economic, political, and social spheres. They are California’s largest racial and ethnic group representing 14.7 million people or 39% of the population. They account for $706.6 billion in gross domestic product — more than the economic output of Ohio. At the same time, when compared to other groups, Latino/x Californians are more likely to live in poverty, be uninsured, and have poor health outcomes.
Research shows that Latino/x Californians have more difficulty finding a doctor and are less likely to use mental health services than other groups. They are also more likely to get diagnosed late with breast cancer and are more likely to contract and die from COVID-19. And despite being the largest racial/ethnic group in the state, they represent only 6% of the state’s physicians and 8% of the state’s medical school graduates.
Medi-Cal is a vital source of health coverage for millions of Latino/x Californians who represent a disproportionately large share of Medi-Cal enrollment. With the expansion of Medi-Cal to all eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status, in 2024, the program will play an even bigger part in the Latino/x community, covering nearly three in four Latino/x Californians living in low-income households.
The California Health Care Foundation is focused on advancing policies and practices that will improve timely access to high-quality primary, specialty, and mental health care for Latino/x Californians and eliminate avoidable differences in health outcomes. Our approach is informed by research and input from Latino/x leaders and partners across the state. We focus on the following key areas:
- Expanding Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians with low incomes, regardless of immigration status, and removing barriers to getting and staying enrolled
- Reducing disparities in access to care experienced by those enrolled in Medi-Cal
- Increasing the capacity of the health care safety net, particularly Federally Qualified Health Centers, which are the primary source of care for Latino/x Californians
- Building a workforce that includes greater representation of Latino/x health professionals
- Investing in Latino/x entrepreneurs to bring technology innovation to Medi-Cal
CHCF is working on a range of projects to improve health care systems for California’s Latino/x communities:
- Expanding Medi-Cal Coverage
We are working with the Department of Health Care Services, advocacy organizations, partners like Insure the Uninsured Project and Latino Coalition for a Health California, and other foundations to make it easier for Latinos/x to get covered and stay enrolled in Medi-Cal, including by addressing issues such as public charge. We support the expansion of Medi-Cal to include all Californians with low incomes, regardless of immigration status, and aid its implementation by supporting projects to inform the public about the expansion.
- Documenting and Reducing Disparities
We are shining a light on Latino/x health care disparities through our research, lifting up Latino/x health care experiences through journalism grants, and working with partners like the California Pan Ethnic Health Network to develop a health equity roadmap for Medi-Cal.
- Increasing the Capacity of California’s Health Care Safety Net
We are partnering statewide with Federally Qualified Health Centers, which play a major role in providing health care to Latino/x patients, to expand their capacity to provide timely, patient-centered, whole-person care. In 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CHCF launched the Tipping Point Initiative to quickly enable safety-net organizations to ensure that Medi-Cal enrollees have access to telehealth services. We are building on this effort by making additional investments to improve equitable access to telehealth. We are also supporting a learning collaborative with community health centers to improve behavioral health outcomes for Latino/x and other underserved groups.
- Building a More Diverse Workforce
CHCF is working to reduce health workforce shortages and ensure that California’s health workforce reflects the diversity of the state. To address immediate needs, we are expanding opportunities for community health workers and promotores de salud to increase the language and cultural capabilities of care teams. With a longer time horizon in mind, we are helping to bring more Latino/x Californians into the health workforce pipeline, through programs like the California Medicine Scholars Program and UC PRIME.
- Bringing Technology Innovation to Health Care
The CHCF Innovation Fund is helping to cultivate and invest in Latino/x entrepreneurs who are developing technology solutions that improve health care delivery and the well-being of communities of color. We believe that technology solutions should be developed by the people they are meant to serve.
- Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic
We supported The Conversation / La Conversación, a public information campaign created by KFF and UnidosUS to provide Latino/x communities with credible information about COVID-19 vaccines. As part of the campaign, Latino/x health care workers answer common questions in English and Spanish with the help of pediatricians and maternity care providers who give information about the COVID-19 vaccines for children and birthing people.