California Foundations Push Latino Enrollment in ACA

California has a rough row to hoe as far as the Affordable Care Act is concerned. They’re just one state, and yet they have an estimated 15% of the uninsured folks in the whole country. They prepared for the Affordable Care Act well, and Covered California, the state’s ACA-run program, is solidly built and, by all accounts, user-friendly. But California has to contend with more than just a big number of uninsured. It has major cultural and lingual divides to overcome, as well. Those of Latin origin make up 50% of the state’s population—and yet only 20% of ACA enrollees are Latino. Covered California didn’t offer a Spanish-language version of its applications until the end of the December, and the website was dogged with translation errors for weeks after that. It’s an uphill battle.

Fortunately, California is a state well-provisioned with organized, committed, health-minded philanthropies. Many of them have been working in minority communities for years, and so expanding or enhancing their ACA-roll out grantmaking to target Latinos is no big deal. The undeniable leader of this charge is the California Endowment, which closed out 2013 with a $23 million-give towards enrolling the uninsured—and especially Latinos—in Covered California. $15 million was given in a single whopping grant to Univision Communications, Inc., a Latino media conglomerate: simply put, the California Endowment wants to get the ACA message out there, and it wants to make it appealing to Latinos.

Somewhat less overt, though no less dedicated than the California Endowment, is the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Their fourth-quarter 2013 giving topped out at $10.7 million, and nearly every little program, initiative, and community clinic that money is earmarked for includes some tangential push to enroll Latinos in the ACA. More specifically geared to Latinos, however, is the $100,000 destined for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, which targets communities of color and low English proficiency.

The California Wellness Foundation contributed $5 million towards the ACA in 2013, and, like BSCF, the bulk of its health-related gifts are designed to boost Latino ACA enrollment in some way. In September, 2013, approved projects included $3 million for a bunch of grants focusing on boosting ACA enrollment in low-income communities, which in many parts of the state translates to Latino neighborhoods. Later in the year, in December, TCWF earmarked $2 million for grants addressing health care access for those who are still uninsured under the ACA. In 2012, they gave $200,000 to Vision y Comprimiso in support of its work toward informing California policy makers of the health care needs of low-income populations, and their future interests and giving plans point to more gifts along those lines.