Advocacy groups send letter to California Attorney General requesting investigation into discrimination by health insurance companies

LOS ANGELES, CA - California patient advocacy organizations Healthy African American Families, Familia Unida, and For Grace today sent a letter to California Attorney General Jerry Brown requesting an investigation into discriminatory practices by health insurance companies that deny entire California communities access to critical and often life-saving medications.

  The full text of the letter read:

  Dear Attorney General Brown,

We are writing to ask that your office investigate an unscrupulous health insurer practice that denies California patients in pain access to critical medication. We are concerned that this insurer practice particularly discriminates against African American and Latino families, those living with disabilities, and women, especially those in low-income communities.

California insurers, including Blue Shield, refuse to initially cover doctor-prescribed and FDA-approved treatments. Some insurers require that patients fail on up to five medicines before they can have access to the one the doctor initially prescribed.

The result of this practice is that members of minority and low-income communities are denied access to new and better medications, and that they experience prolonged pain and often deteriorating health.

When health insurers deny patients access to timely and effective treatment, those who need medicine for chronic pain – including Californians suffering from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (a painful diabetes-related nerve condition) – are especially hurt. It is not only unethical, but cruel, for insurers to deny a patient access to a medicine the doctor knows will relieve their pain and to require the patient to go through multiple steps of taking drugs that don’t work.

Denying patients in pain access to medication is more than a quality-of-life issue. When a single mother suffering from fibromyalgia is forced to try multiple pain treatments that do not work, she often must miss work, and arrange childcare and travel, which threatens her livelihood and ability to provide for her family.

In March of 2009, 16 state Attorneys General sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) raising concerns about Medicare plans requiring patients to fail first on multiple medicines, including treatments not even approved for their particular condition. In response, CMS tightened restrictions and adopted a policy that prevents health insurers from requiring patients to take more than two medicines before the insurer will cover the medicine that the doctor thinks is the most appropriate treatment.

California patients not covered by Medicare deserve the same protections. We respectfully request your office investigate California health plan practices relating to their fail first policies so patients in pain can have access to the treatments their individual physician thinks they need.


  Loretta Jones
  Executive Director
  Healthy African American Families 2

  Irma Resendez
  Executive Director
  Familia Unida

  Cynthia Toussaint
  For Grace

New data released on the economic and political power of Pennsylvania’s immigrant Latinos and Asians

Washington D.C. - The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians not only wield political power in Pennsylvania, but are an integral part of the state’s economy and tax base. As workers, taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, immigrants and their children are an economic powerhouse. As voters, they are a growing political force. Yet anti-immigrant groups are exaggerating the alleged fiscal “costs” imposed by unauthorized immigrants, and are completely discounting the many economic benefits which immigrants, Latinos, and Asians bring to the Keystone State.

Highlights of the research include:

- Immigrants make up about 5.4% of Pennsylvania’s total population, and half of them are naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote.
- New Americans (naturalized U.S. citizens and their U.S.-born children) represent 5.2% of registered voters.

- The purchasing power of Pennsylvania’s Latinos and Asians totaled $22.6 billion in 2008.

- Businesses owned by Latinos and Asians had sales and receipts of $8.2 billion and employed nearly 53,000 people in 2002 (the last year for which data is available). 

- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Pennsylvania, the state would lose $5.3 billion in expenditures, $2.3 billion in economic output, and about 27,000 jobs.

There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make and the important role they play in Pennsylvania’s political and economic future. Pennsylvania’s budget deficit was not created by immigrants and it won’t be filled by attacking them. For more data on the contributions of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians to Pennsylvania’s economy, view the IPC fact sheet in its entirety.

General Mills expands multicultural initiatives

Story by Kimberly Maul of PRWeek

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - General Mills is increasing its spend in multicultural marketing, expanding on its African-American Feeding Dreams and Hispanic Qué Rica Vida programs.

Please click here for full story
(must have a subscription to PRWeek to view full story)

New Spanish-language consumer guides compare treatments for depression, prostate cancer and other conditions

ROCKVILLE, MD – Spanish speakers who want to know how soon they can expect to feel better when taking an antidepressant, which rheumatoid arthritis drugs work best against pain or how surgery compares with other options for prostate cancer now can get this and other treatment information through new Spanish-language consumer guides released today by HHS’ agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

AHRQ also released consumer guides in Spanish that compare treatments for high blood pressure, osteoporosis in women after menopause and renal artery stenosis — a narrowing of the renal artery that supplies blood to the kidneys.  The six Spanish-language guides join three previously published Spanish-language guides on oral medications for type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and acid reflux disease.

“The lack of reliable health information in Spanish plays a role in health disparities faced by Hispanics in this country,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “It is critical that we fill this gap because many of the nation’s 44 million Hispanics need or prefer to get such information in Spanish so they can talk with their doctors about which treatments are best for them.”

AHRQ’s recently released 2008 National Healthcare Disparities Report shows that while the quality of health care is slowly improving for the nation as a whole, it is getting worse for Hispanics, especially those who speak little or no English.

The new Spanish-language consumer guides are produced by AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program, the leading federal effort to conduct comparative effectiveness research.  That program, authorized by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, represents an important federal effort to compare alternative treatments for health conditions and make the findings public. The program is intended to help patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others choose the most effective treatments.

To access the on-line Spanish-language consumer guides, as well as AHRQ’s English-language consumer guides and companion guides for clinicians, go to Audio versions of many guides also are available. To order free printed copies of the guides, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or send an e-mail to

Cancers set to ‘explode’ in Latino/a populations, UI researcher says

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. The Latino/a population in the United States is expected to triple by 2050, according to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. And along with that growth, says University of Illinois professor Lydia Buki, will come a rise in the number of individuals from that population who are diagnosed with cancer.

In particular, based on current statistics, Buki expects that diagnoses of breast and cervical cancers among Latinas will increase significantly.

“It’s just going to explode,” she said. “It’s really a train wreck waiting to happen, and we’re not doing enough to anticipate women’s needs. Even right now, we are not doing a good job of providing services for these women.”  To read the full story, click here.

News staffing: Women up, minorities down

Women increased their share of jobs in newsrooms in both television and radio in 2009, according to a new study, but minorities lost ground after peaking in 2008. The study, produced annually, comes from RTNDA and Hofstra University.  Women now hold 41.4% of TV news positions and 28.1% of all radio slots, and hold their own in the tally of news directors. However, minorities fell from 23.6% of total TV staff in 2008 to 21.8%, and went from 11.8% to 8.9% in the radio department.  To read the full article click here.

PR Week vlog interview with Michael Olguin, president of Formula PR on the launch of Formulatin

PR Week recently interviewed Michael Olguin, president of New York boutique Hispanic PR firm Formulatin.  To view the interview, click here.

PR Newswire strengthens Caribbean influence through partnership with CaribPR Wire

NEW YORK, NY – PR Newswire today announced a distribution agreement with CaribPR Wire that enhances PR Newswire’s exposure to the Caribbean region while providing a gateway for businesses and organizations in the Caribbean to communicate with audiences throughout the world.

“PR Newswire’s partnership with CaribPR Wire ensures that our clients will have access to the most comprehensive and targeted news distribution option in the Caribbean region,” said Joaquin Burgos, president, PR Newswire Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. “As the leader in global news distribution, PR Newswire continuously seeks alliances with organizations such as CaribPR Wire to expand and enhance our distribution capabilities. We look forward to working with CaribPR Wire to provide our clients with greater access to Caribbean audiences and to introduce Caribbean companies to PR Newswire’s full suite of communications tools.”

The partnership with CaribPR Wire bolsters PR Newswire’s reach into the Caribbean market by delivering access to more than 300 Caribbean-focused media outlets and journalists in the U.S. and the Caribbean region.  For CaribPR Wire customers, the distribution agreement offers an opportunity to leverage PR Newswire’s industry-leading distribution network.

Christopher Chaplin, director, CaribPR Wire, said, “We are excited to partner with PR Newswire, the preeminent provider of news distribution and communications services worldwide. This relationship will provide Caribbean companies with the ability to reach a global audience in multiple languages, via print, radio, television and new media platforms via PR Newswire’s global network. In addition, they will gain access to PR Newswire’s industry-leading distribution lines to U.S. Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and African American audiences.”

Hyland’s, Inc. targets Latina moms with launch of first Hispanic website for new moms focused on natural family care

LOS ANGELES – Over-the-counter natural medicine provider Hyland’s, Inc. has launched (Comienzos Saludables), a unique social networking, education-based website for Latina mothers. Comienzos Saludables continues Hyland’s strategy to improve the availability of, and accessibility to, important healthcare resources for this growing population. The new site offers Hispanic mothers a fully bilingual Spanish/English community to assist with information on pregnancy, infant care, raising a family, healthy lifestyle, and treating your family’s health issues with natural medicines.

Comienzo Saludables marks Hyland’s latest initiative to reach out to the Hispanic consumer. Already, the company has made packaging on 22 products Spanish/English bilingual, developed a baby development calendar in Spanish and sponsored a community health worker, Promotoras, program called Salud con Hyland’s. Now, with usage of social networking sites by Hispanics up 200% in 2006 (Forrester’s Hispanic Technographics Series Research), Hyland’s delivers this new resource for Latina mothers.

“Hyland’s has a longstanding commitment to providing accessible healthcare,” said J.P. Borneman, PhD, chairman and CEO of Hyland’s, Inc. “With 25% of U.S. moms of Hispanic origin, that access, in this case, comes in the form of a website full of culturally relevant, in-language educational material for Hispanic families. Our goal is to empower pre- and post-natal Hispanic mothers with information and a community of support as they strive to give their babies the very healthiest start in life.”

Studies show that a growing number of Hispanics are online and seeking information in their own language. Specifically, according to eMarketer, 23 million U.S. Hispanics were online in 2008 and that number is expected to surpass 29 million by 2012. Also, according to AOL/Roper Public Affairs Hispanic Cyberstudy 2005, Spanish language content is important to 75% of Hispanic web users.

Comienzos Saludables brings health information and social media, in a fully bilingual format, together to address this growing demographic. With 70% of Latina mothers under the age of 30, and with an increasing number of Hispanics shown to have a natural affinity for online social networking, Hyland’s expects tremendous response from Latina mothers to its new site. Free membership to Comienzos Saludables, or Healthy Beginnings, provides access to interactive community tools, including community forums, photo galleries, blogs, personal profile pages, over 400 articles on family health and lifestyle topics, and monthly newsletters. The site is divided into the following sections: Healthy Pregnancy; Your Baby; Parent’s Corner; Home Remedies and Homeopathy; Healthy and Natural Lifestyle; and Community.

Comienzos Saludables features the latest in web 2.0 technologies and provides a secure, friendly online environment for Latinas to stay in touch with their friends and family, as well as make new connections by sharing tips, advice and experiences of motherhood with others.
Visit or to join the new online community.

Allstate’s targets economy in new Spanish-language online/TV advertising campaign

Allstate is honing in on what’s most important to Hispanic consumers in its Spanish-language integrated communication and marketing national campaign.
The TV commercials, running on Spanish-language networks, are in tune with the tough economic challenges facing consumers today.  Created by Lápiz, the Hispanic shop of Chicago-based Leo Burnett, the spots identify with the resourcefulness of Hispanic consumers and their desire to get the best value in their purchases, including insurance.

“The Hispanic community really values name brands,” says Georgina Flores, senior marketing manager for Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate. “Part of what gives them peace of mind is doing business with a leading company. Allstate’s brand is viewed very highly by Hispanics. We want them to understand that in order to save money, you don’t have to sacrifice service.”

Two spots, “Cobbler” and “Toothpaste,” broke in February and were joined by “Load,” which broke in early July. A fourth spot, “Job,” will break late this year, Flores told Marketing Daily. The spots show consumers stretching their dollars and emphasize that Allstate can save them money. They close with “Are You In Good Hands,” the same tagline as English-language efforts.

The ads are part of Allstate’s ongoing Hispanic marketing efforts that aim to engage and communicate with the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. The company’s Hispanic marketing program includes TV and radio advertising, online activations, media integrations, sponsorship of the Mexican National Soccer Team (for the third consecutive year), and sponsorship of television and radio programs including “Premio lo Nuestro” and the Latin Grammy Awards.

Allstate creates communications specifically for Hispanics, Flores says.

“In the general market, the messaging is about how we need to get back to basics — how everyone has really been living beyond their means,” she says. “With Hispanics, they already have been ‘back to basics.’ It’s just the culture and way of life. They’re always trying to do more with less.”

The company’s Spanish-language Web site,, provides interactive online tools including the CoberTOUR which seeks to educate about how insurance works, what options exist and offer quote estimates. Consumers can locate one of the more than 3,000 agencies with Spanish-speaking capabilities. The site also contains resources and tips including information on purchasing a car, common insurance terms and processes and a financial calculator.

“We’ve really stepped up our efforts online,” Flores says. “Essentially, in our category, you’ll find big brands simply translate their English Web sites to Spanish. Instead, Allstate went to Hispanic consumers to see what they wanted and needed. There’s some similar content (to the English-language site) but we set it up in a much more culturally relevant way.”

The company also has created an interactive Web site dedicated to Allstate’s Mexican National Team sponsorship,
www. Featuring Mexican National Team goalie Memo Ochoa, the online destination offers fans and visitors an opportunity to design their own soccer balls, view behind-the-scenes footage from recent TV commercials and create unique soccer chants while fostering an emotional connection between the consumer and the game of soccer. The company has created a complete “surround sound” communications program tied to the sponsorship, including dedicated TV, radio, print, online, community events and a sweepstakes, Flores says.

Story courtesy MediaPost.

Immigration Policy Center releases information on Latinos and Asians in Ohio

WASHINGTON, DC – The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that Ohio’s immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an integral part of the state’s economy and tax base. As workers, taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, immigrants and their children are an economic powerhouse. As Ohio’s economy begins to recover, immigrants and their children will continue to play a key role in the shaping and growing the economic and political landscape of the Buckeye State.

Highlights of the research include:
- Immigrants make up nearly 4% of Ohio’s total population and nearly half of them are naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote.
- New Americans (naturalized U.S. citizens and their U.S.-born children) represent 2.4% of the state’s voting population.
- The purchasing power of Ohio’s Asians totaled $7.1 billion and Latino buying power totaled $6.1 billion in 2008.
- Asian-owned businesses in the state generated sales and receipts worth more than $5.1 billion annually and Latino-owned businesses generated $1.3 billion in 2002.

There is no denying the contributions immigrants make and the important role they play in Ohio’s political and economic future.  For more data on the contributions of immigrants to Ohio’s economy, view the IPC fact sheet in its entirety.

Nordstrom launches early into Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations with Latino Art Beat Exhibit

SEATTLE, WA - In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Nordstrom is partnering for a second year with Latino Art Beat, a Chicago-based not-for-profit arts organization, to feature art from their “What Hispanic Heritage & Culture Means to Me” contest at Nordstrom stores and online at

High school juniors and seniors from Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington D.C. were invited to enter a drawing or painting for the 2009 fine-arts competition that illustrates what Hispanic heritage and culture means to them. Winning artwork from the Drawing and Painting category will be showcased in window displays at select Nordstrom stores and in an

e-gallery at during Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated September 15 to October 15, 2009.

“We are delighted to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and partner once again with Latino Art Beat, an organization that recognizes the importance of furthering the value of arts education and Latino culture within our communities,” said Amelia Ransom Letcher, vice president of Diversity Affairs for Nordstrom.  “We are excited to feature the winning artwork in our windows and share the talents of these five individuals with our customers and employees.”

“Young people are our future and this collaboration between Latino Art Beat and Nordstrom, supplemented by the on-going support of all our sponsors, academic partners and friends, is helping make a difference,” said Don Rossi Nuccio, president and co-founder of Latino Art Beat. “We will help shape tomorrow’s future by offering alternatives to our young people; encouraging higher learning through the award of college scholarships. By profiling these talented young artists through Nordstrom, and publicly honoring them at awards ceremonies being held around the country, we are not only celebrating Hispanic heritage, but encouraging their future success.”

Latino Art Beat selected one winner from each region and one national winner, each receiving a scholarship to the college of their choice. Nordstrom will give each regional first-place winner a $1,000 cash prize and make a $20,000 donation to Latino Art Beat to help in their mission to “Celebrate Youth, Art and Hispanic Heritage and Culture.”

The exhibit and e-gallery on will feature winning artwork from the following five artists:

  –  Katherine Ordonez – “Todo Para Ti, Maria Sofia” – Miami, Fla.
  –  Carolina Ibarra – “Mis Primitos” – Chicago, Ill.
  –  Condelo Botello -”Loteria and Self-Portrait” -  Houston, Texas
  –  Jonathan Marquez Mejia -”El Esqueleto de Mariachi” – - Los Angeles,

  –  Christian J. Baez – “India Madre de Ecuador” – Washington D.C.

The e-gallery will also feature the winning film entry from Latino Art Beat’s Film and Animation Competition titled “My Life”  by Gilbert Anthony Perez-Aguilar, Los Angeles, Calif., who will also receive a $1,000 prize from Nordstrom.

The exhibit will be on display at 19 Nordstrom stores across the country including:

  –  Broadway Plaza – Walnut Creek, Calif.
  –  Dadeland Mall – Miami
  –  Downtown Seattle – Seattle
  –  Fashion Square – Scottsdale, Ariz.
  –  Galleria Dallas – Dallas
  –  Garden State Plaza – Paramus, N.J.
  –  Horton Plaza – San Diego
  –  Houston Galleria – Houston
  –  Main Place/Santa Ana – Santa Ana, Calif.
  –  Michigan Avenue – Chicago
  –  Montgomery Mall – Bethesda, Md.
  –  Park Meadows – Littleton, Colo.
  –  Salem Center – Salem, Ore.
  –  San Francisco Centre – San Francisco
  –  Southcenter Plaza – Seattle
  –  Stanford Shopping Center – Palo Alto, Calif.
  –  The Grove – Los Angeles
  –  Valley Fair – San Jose, Calif.

  –  Village of Merrick Park – Coral Gables, Fl