While still serving as a managing attorney at Public Advocates, Inc. during the era of the Clinton health care reform efforts, Carmela noted the critical absence of a strong Latino voice among the advocates for universal health care. With the support of Public Advocates, she founded and took on the role of executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), one of the state’s earliest health care policy and advocacy organizations focused on underserved Latinos. Under her leadership, LCHC established regional networks of Latino health experts and activists throughout the state, developed and advocated for standards of cultural and linguistic care that were adopted by the state’s Medi-Cal Managed Care program, and hosted numerous statewide conferences on Latino health. To this day, LCHC remains the voice for Latinos in the healthcare arena in California.
For the last 18 years, Carmela has continued to advocate for health equity for underserved communities and for fundamental reform of the health care system in her role as CEO of the California Primary Care Association (CPCA). She and her colleagues at CPCA have helped pass into law a long list of critically important legislative health initiatives, culminating with passage of the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010. In the years since, Carmela has put her advocacy skills to work on behalf of CPCA’s more than 1,100 member community clinics and health centers, which are the vital linchpin and the ultimate solution to health reform’s continuing goal of serving the state’s underserved communities with health care that is high quality, affordable, equitable, and socially just.
Click here to download “CPCA 20 years of Advocacy” to see what the organization has accomplished under Carmela’s leadership.
Under Carmela’s leadership, the California Primary Care Association’s Board of Directors voted to create a 501 (c)(4) entity in January 2016 and CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates was incorporated later that month.
CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates is a social welfare organization that is dedicated to advancing the mission of community health centers through state and federal advocacy. CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates represents more than 1,100 community health centers that provide care to 1 in 7 Californians. CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates is governed by a Board of Directors who have been designated by the CPCA Board of Directors. Carmela Castellano-Garcia is the President and CEO and leads a team of government affairs professionals.
CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates is committed to promoting healthy people and healthy communities by strengthening California’s system of community health centers. The organization believes that individual health and community health are the foundation of what community health centers are today and what they strive to be tomorrow. United through a single voice, CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates will advance the core values of community health centers to the benefit of patients and communities.