Advocacy for
the Community


Carmela has dedicated her professional life to advocating for those in need. From her time as a civil rights attorney at Public Advocates in San Francisco to the formation of CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates, she continues to give a voice those that need it most. Through her 25 years of experience in healthcare, Carmela has become a leading expert in a wide array of health policy issues, including the value-based care, behavioral health and primary care integration, women’s health and reproductive rights, the primary care workforce shortage, as well as Health4All.

California Primary Care Association

As President and CEO of the California Primary Care Association (CPCA) since 1997, Carmela has overseen the operations of this membership organization which serves as the largest and most diverse nonprofit community health center system in the nation. CPCA represents more than 1,300 community clinics and health centers (CCHCs) and the 6.5 million patients they serve. Given the critical role of CCHCs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the growth and success of these nonprofit, community-based health care providers positions them to be the ultimate solution to the ongoing challenge of serving millions of previously uninsured, low-income individuals in the state of California.

As a federally designated Primary Care Association, CPCA has a longstanding relationship with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), its federal counterpart. In partnership with NACHC, CPCA has been instrumental in positive policy outcomes at the federal level over the years. One of the primary goals of the organization is to be a leading PCA in advocacy to advance the mission of community health centers. Since the inception of the health center program more than 50 years ago, health centers have garnered bi-partisan support and have seen a steady growth in federal dollars directly due to CPCA and NACHC advocacy. In addition, CPCA has worked to develop and maintain successful relationships with the Health And Human Services (HHS) Agency and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

At the state level, CPCA is responsible for 25 bills being signed into law over the past two decades. Additionally, CPCA has been successful in securing funding for health centers and related programs through the state budgetary process and successfully fought to protect the way health centers are reimbursed for services by the state.

CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates

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. In that time, Advocates has successfully moved 8 bills through the legislative process, resulting in 4 being signed into law. In addition, the c(4) worked with a coalition of provider organizations to secure $100 million in funding from the state to address the growing primary care workforce shortage.

CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates is a social welfare organization, led by Director of Government Affairs Andie Patterson. It is dedicated to advancing the mission of community health centers through state and federal advocacy. CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates represents more than 1,300 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.


Carmela is a co-founder of the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization (CalHIPSO), a non-profit joint venture between the California Primary Care Association (CPCA), the California Medical Association (CMA), and the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH).

As one of 62 federally designated Regional Extension Centers (REC), CalHIPSO helped providers in California navigate the complicated world of electronic health record (EHR) adoption. CalHIPSO has assisted more than 10,000 providers in adopting EHRs and demonstrating Meaningful Use in order to qualify for federal incentive payments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus program.

CalHIPSO is the largest REC in the country. Serving 56 of California’s 58 counties, CalHIPSO’s market stretches across the state into both urban and rural areas. CalHIPSO works with providers in community clinics, rural hospitals and clinics, small and solo private practices and public hospitals. The path to Meaningful Use is unique to every organization; an organized team of regional and community-based administrative and technical experts are required to meet this challenge. CalHIPSO members have earned more than $100 million in EHR incentive payments.

CalHIPSO is currently led by Executive Director, David T. Ford. Carmela currently serves on the CalHIPSO Board at present, and served as Board Chair from the organization’s inception in 2010 until 2014.


California’s immigrant population plays an important role in our communities. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends. Carmela has always been outspoken on immigrant issues, especially those impacting our undocumented population. Fighting for health care reform that included everyone – including those individuals that are undocumented – has been of the highest priority. Advocating for health care as a right for everyone has been at the forefront of her work since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and encouraging comprehensive immigration reform continues to be of the utmost importance to her.  Which is why Carmela continues to push for policies that keep families together–policies that treat all people with compassion and supports reform legation which offers a pathway to permanent legal status to people who arrived in the U.S. as children, can pass a background check, and otherwise fit the DACA criteria is vital and why she continues to stand up for Dreamers. 


Women’s Health

Carmela is dedicated to issues impacting women in today’s society. Under her leadership, CPCA actively supported the work of Planned Parenthood and advocated for continued funding of the organization when it was under attack.  Women’s reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services are vitally important to their overall health, and Planned Parenthood continues to be one of the only places for women to access these services in certain parts of the country. Additionally, women’s issues such as the gender pay gap, workplace equity, economic empowerment and security, domestic violence and safety continue to be a top priority for Carmela.

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