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Amanda Hawes is a partner in the class-action litigation firm Alexander, Hawes & Audet. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, she was awarded a Juris Doctorate by Harvard Law School in 1968. A pioneer in toxic chemical litigation and the medical effects of toxic chemicals, Ms. Hawes has taught environmental justice and toxic torts at Golden Gate University School of Law, Santa Clara Law School and the University of California's Hastings College of Law, where she was a faculty member from 1975 to 1988.

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The UCSF Primary Care Research Center focuses on issues involving access to care, primary care providers and improving health outcomes in vulnerable populations. Dr. Bindman is acting chief of the division of general internal medicine and director of the Primary Care Research Center, as well as an attending physician in the General Medical Clinic. Dr. Bindman's interests include health care access and its impact on patients' health, evaluation of health care reform and primary care workforce issues.

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Dr. America Bracho is the founder, president and CEO of Latino Health Access, a center for health promotion and disease prevention in Santa Ana, Calif. This center was created under her leadership to assist with the multiple health needs of Latinos in Orange County. Latino Health Access encourages empowerment for the Latino community and uses participatory approaches to community health education. The programs train community health workers as leaders of wellness and change. Dr. Bracho worked as a physician in her native Venezuela for several years. She came to the U.S.

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Dr. Alice Huan-mei Chen is director of the General Medicine Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. With a primary interest in how poverty, cultural differences and policy intersect to create barriers to care, Chen focuses on improving access to quality health care for health consumers with limited English skills.

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Amanda Perez is a lecturer at the UC Davis King Hall School of Law and former executive director of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, an organization providing legal aid and advocacy for residents of rural California. The foundation works to naturalize residents in remote rural areas of the state as well as advocates for rural rights related to education, safety, environment, housing and health.

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As the fastest growing ethnic population in the United States, Latinos have a major impact on the health care system. Nearly one in three Americans will be Latino by 2050, according to an August 2008 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Latino population is expected to nearly triple from 46.7 million in 2008 to 132.8 million in 2050. As a percentage of the overall U.S. population, Latinos will more than double from 15 to 30 percent.

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Cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans, though heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans in general. Asian Americans also have a disproportionately high incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, and tuberculosis. They are more likely to smoke, a risk factor for numerous diseases. Despite these factors, Asian American women have the longest life expectancy (85.8 years) of any ethnic group in the United States. Many Asian Americans face language and cultural barriers to obtaining health care.

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In 2002, health care costs, particularly for cancer treatments, were soaring for seniors in some Medicare HMOs. After negative publicity about one HMO's drastic increase in chemotherapy copayments, the HMO agreed to reduce the cost to make it more affordable for patients.

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The USC Center for Health Journalism's Impact Funds provide reporting support — funding and mentoring — to journalists who think big and want to make a difference. 

Apply today for our National Impact Fund for reporting on health equity and health systems across the country. 

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