Guess Who Just Put $15 Million behind ACA Outreach

It’s pretty hard to ignore how popular the Affordable Care Act is with California philanthropies. From streamlining its roll-out to supporting outreach to disenfranchised populations to making sure CA’s state-led healthcare plan is the best it can be, philanthropies from The California Wellness Foundation to Blue Shield of California to the California Endowment are all getting in line and giving big. It’s pretty amazing. Many of the organizations held back from supporting the ACA until it was a “done deal”—that is, until it passed the inspection of the Supreme Court when conservative politicos tried to have it deemed unconstitutional—but now that that trial is behind us, they’re jumping on the bandwagon in a very big way.

Case in point: the California Endowment. Though it’s been a fairly visible supporter of the ACA since the beginning, it’s been modest about its contributions up until now. As the whole, the organization has favored a “broad and shallow” approach, forking over some $70 million annually in 400 different grants—grants that rarely exceeded $1 million themselves. It’s that kind of grantmaking approach, plus CE’s cautious support of the ACA, that makes their recent big gift such a shocker. In December, they gave a whopping $15 million to Univision Communications, Inc., in a bid to rapidly expand ACA outreach into Latino neighborhoods.

Like, whoa. The California Endowment hasn’t released its hard numbers yet for fiscal year 2013, but if they stick to their usual annual giving rate of $70 million or so, that means their big Univision gift comprises over 25% of their year’s giving. The message is pretty clear: these big California philanthropies are heavily, heavily invested in changing the health insurance game for millions of Californians. Especially the underprivileged, and especially Latinos. It’s a pretty pertinent game for anyone working in health access and policy to keep an eye on, as philanthropies in other states might soon be inspired by the very public, very flashy ACA roll-out happening in the Golden State.