Yet another program that supports the health of Latinas and their families may be completely wiped out of the federal budget. The Appropriations Committees from both the House and Senate have recommended cutting all funding for the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), which is the only federal program to help students from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds advance a career in the health professions. HCOP, created through Title VII of the Public Health Service Act in 1963, has been successful in increasing health care workforce diversity and decreasing racial/ethnic health disparities.
Latinas need this program because they are among the groups most likely to benefit from increased health care workforce diversity. From our work, you know that cultural, linguistic and economic barriers to health care persist and continue to endanger Latina health. HCOP helps address this situation, because with more Latinas working in health care comes greaterunderstanding of and attention to Latina health and health care issues.
Studies have shown that recipients of this program go on to serve disadvantaged communities directly. Health care professionals from diverse backgrounds have the cultural and linguistic skills to serve our country, which continues to grow more ethnically and racially diverse. Many beneficiaries of this program have also positively impacted their communities by creating businesses, serving as health educators and by advocating for the public health of vulnerable communities.
As the economic recession continues to take its toll on Latinas and their families, now is the time to support, not defund, programs that seek to expand opportunities and address the health care needs of our communities. Take action! The folks at the National Hispanic Medical Association have made it easy to urge your elected representative in Congress to vote against the defunding of the HCOP Program. Click here, and enter your zip code to connect with your representatives and support Latina health!