National Latino Research Center
A representative from The National Latino Research Center spoke at Friday’s press conference. Photo via @NLRC_CSUSM X

Rep. Mike Levin on Friday joined U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to announce $333,000 in new funding for health equity research to address disparities in Latino health outcomes and access to medical care.

The funding is intended to support research through the Community Health Advocate “Bridges2Health” program, a partnership between the National Latino Research Center at California State University San Marcos, Vista Community Clinic and the Vista Unified School District to help improve access to health resources for Latino families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear we have systemic inequalities in our health care system that worsen the health outcomes for Latinos and communities of color across the United States,” said Levin, a Democrat who represents north coastal San Diego and south Orange counties . “We need dedicated health partnerships that meet the needs of Latinos and help them access quality, affordable health care. That’s why this funding is so crucial.”

“The Bridges2Health program will improve health conditions and break down barriers that lead to health disparities in Latino communities,” he said.

According to a statement from Levin’s office, Latino families in the United States are twice as likely as their white peers to live in poverty and have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group in the country. Bridges2Health is intended to help Latinos in Vista apply for health insurance coverage and access health services to improve quality of life and outcomes.

“I know from experience that families with limited English proficiency have a harder time navigating health care systems,” said Becerra. “Too often, they have to miss out on preventive care entirely. At HHS, we are doing everything in our power to implement equity by design and eliminate health disparities.”

“I want to thank Congressman Mike Levin for his commitment to this work,” he said. “Together, we are connecting more people to care and building healthier futures — especially for those who have historically been left behind.”

A Bridges2Health Community Health Advocate from Vista Community Clinic will provide support at the two recently designated community schools within the Vista Unified School District to “assist ethnic/racial minority, low-income, and limited English proficient students and their families to establish a medical home, connect them with community resources to address health needs, increase enrollment and sustain engagement with Medicaid/CHIP and SNAP programs and plan health specific events in the community,” the statement reads.

City News Service contributed to this article.