Senator Lena Gonzalez Introduces Bill to Address Health Disparities for Latino and Indigenous Communities in California

February 05, 2024
Sacramento, Calif. – On February 5, 2024, Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) introduced Senate Bill 1016 The Latino and Indigenous Health Disparities Reduction Act, which would promote greater health equity. The bill would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Department of Social Services (DSS) to collect and disaggregate comprehensive health data specifically focusing on Latino and Indigenous communities. 
The bill recognizes the urgent need to address health disparities for Latino and Indigenous communities and ensure that healthcare policies and services are tailored to their unique needs. Latinos are 40% of the population and are diverse in terms of ethnicity, culture, and language. Indigenous Mesoamericans alone speak 560 indigenous languages. 
The need to gather and analyze health data with a specific emphasis on Latino and Indigenous subgroups became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic when Latino and Mesoamerican Indigenous communities experienced the highest rates of COVID-19 infections and death (44.5% of cases and 42.1% of deaths in California).
“Equitable access to healthcare for all communities, including our Latino and Indigenous communities, is extremely important,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “The Latino and Indigenous Health Disparities Reduction Act acknowledges the unique hurdles these communities face and offers a solution to help improve their health outcomes. SB 1016 will update our state health data to reflect the diversity of our communities and ensure that no one is left behind."
“The COVID-19 pandemic exemplified how critical data is to achieve health equity. While California takes bold steps towards achieving universal healthcare, we don’t yet have adequate data to fully understand 40% of the California population. It behooves us to build the infrastructure needed to better reach and serve our Latine and Indigenous Mesoamerican communities. Without the data, it's nearly impossible for decision makers to adequately prioritize equitable funding for solutions to new and ongoing health crises,” said Dr. Seciah Aquino, Executive Director for the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. “California has never been one to wait for Washington. With current political uncertainty at the federal level, it's more important than ever to take decision making into our own hands and ensure the visibility of Indigenous Mesoamerican communities.”
"Mesoamerican Indigenous communities are often forced to identify as "Latino," which erases our identity as the First People of this continent. Mexico has 68 Indigenous ethnic groups with their own unique languages, and these indigenous languages are spoken in schools, homes, and workplaces across California. Our language and ethnicity are integral parts of our heritage, identity, and power as a people and community. We look forward to working on passing this important legislation to finally be counted," said Arcenio J. Lopez, Executive Director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP).
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her family. Website of Senator Lena Gonzalez: 
Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC)— is the leading statewide policy organization with a specific emphasis on Latino health. For over 30 years, LCHC has worked on transforming systems to achieve Latinx health justice. We pride ourselves in translating community solutions into equitable policy and lasting change. Learn more at: 
Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) — is the leading Indigenous migrant organization on California’s Central Coast.  For over 20 years, MICOP has worked on addressing inequities in health and language access through advocacy and outreach. We envision a strong indigenous immigrant community actively engaged to achieve just working and living conditions, equality, and full human rights in the broader community. Learn more at: