2021

Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante named senior fellow at UCLA FSPH Center for Health Policy Research


Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante has been named a senior fellow of the Fielding School of Public Health's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, has been named a senior fellow of the Fielding School of Public Health's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, along with Dr. Mark A. Peterson, professor of public policy, political science, and law at UCLA.

"We are elated to bring two renowned experts who’ve been making waves in the health policy field through their research and advocacy both in the political and health equity sphere,” said Dr. Ninez Ponce, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management and director of the Center for Health Policy Research. “Their work aligns with the Center’s work in highlighting actionable data as a way to create the necessary change to move towards health care for all.”

Bustamante’s broad background in health policy includes specialized training and expertise in health care disparities research; survey research and data analysis; health care cost analysis; and program design, implementation, and evaluation. His research focuses on unexplored or underexplored topics on access to and use of health care, predominantly among the Latino/Hispanic community and immigrants in the United States, who are overwhelmingly uninsured or have limited access to health care.

“Dr. Bustamante’s commitment to health equity and his deep understanding of the critical role of data in identifying and eliminating health disparities perfectly aligns with our mission and values,” Ponce said. “The Latino community is now the largest racial or ethnic group in California, making up 39.4% of the state’s population, yet persistent inequities in the health system, including lack of adequate health insurance coverage and access to quality health care have made this community disproportionately at risk. Dr. Bustamante’s research is not only shining a spotlight on these inequities, but developing actionable policy recommendations.”

Bustamante, who also serves as  director of faculty research at the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), is currently the principal investigator on several research grants including two COVID-19 grants measuring racial and ethnic disparities in the transition to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and evaluating the role of health outreach services for undocumented immigrants at the onset of COVID-19.

His work on immigrant and border health care has also been extensive. His work on immigrant health care investigates different pathways that citizenship/ nativity status, length of U.S. residence and exposure to economic recession impact health care use, health insurance coverage and health spending among immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants. His work in border health has examined the motivations for U.S. residents to seek health care in Mexico and the potential policy options to regulate this flow of patients.

“I have used the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research’s California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) in my immigrant and border health care research and truly believe in the Center’s mission of providing credible and comprehensive data to help eliminate health care disparities,” Bustamante said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Ponce and the rest of the UCLA CHPR team in a broader capacity, building on the exciting research going on at the Center, and identifying new opportunities for collaborative research projects, so that we can ensure equal access to health care for all.”

Bustamante previously served as a faculty associate at UCLA CHPR since 2011, and in his new role as senior fellow he will advise on emerging research priorities within the Latino community, provide mentorship to staff and students and foster cross-disciplinary research with UCLA CHPR staff and other centers across the UCLA campus.

The UCLA CHPR senior fellow role will complement his role as LPPI director of faculty research, where he participates in LPPI's research and programmatic activities, and works with LPPI's faculty affiliates to distill their peer-reviewed research into policy-friendly formats that are digestible for public consumption. Bustamante also directs the health and health care module of the Latino Data Hub, which is intended to become a go-to resource for national, state and local data on demographics, socioeconomics and civic participation that will help policymakers, community organizations, philanthropists and businesses design and promote policies that benefit Latino communities.

Bustamante has authored 65 peer-reviewed papers and articles that appeared in reputable health journals such as Health Affairs, Health Services Research, Social Science and Medicine, Medical Care, and the American Journal of Public Health, among others. He has also authored 20 policy reports for LPPI, the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies and the California Health Benefits Review Program, among others. He recently served as editorial advisor for the July 2021 special issue of Health Affairs, focused on health and health care issues relating to immigration and border health in the United States. He curated more than a dozen research studies that provide an in-depth understanding of the effects of U.S. immigration policy on the care, coverage, and health outcomes for immigrants and residents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Peterson specializes in American national institutions and the federal government, and the interactions between the roles of the Presidency, Congress, and interest groups in creating public policy — both nationwide and in domestic settings. His policy expertise spans far and wide, covering national health care policy, Medicare reform, and HIV/AIDS politics and policy. Peterson also studies the role of research evidence in policymaking, including the contextual factors that promote or inhibit its influence.

“Dr. Peterson holds a critical and influential voice that encompasses the broad realm of health policy, looking at how political and health systems interact to create the conditions we have around health care and access,” Ponce said. “As a long-time partner and faculty associate of the Center, his decades-long work in looking at how political bodies of power in the U.S. operate and how various political, economic, and institutional settings impact policy building and collaboration go hand-in-hand with our efforts to democratize data and get it into the hands of individuals who have a top-down influence.”

Peterson has served as a faculty associate at UCLA CHPR since 2003 and has also served as an organizer and facilitator of the annual E.R. Brown Symposium. He was a founding team member of the UCLA-based multidisciplinary Blue Sky Health Initiative to transform the U.S. health and health care system, which advised Congress and the executive branch on the inclusion of population health strategies in the Affordable Care Act. As an American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellow, he was a legislative assistant for health policy for U.S. Senator Tom Daschle.

“As a long-time faculty associate of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, I am absolutely delighted and honored to take on the new role of senior fellow at one of the nation’s premier institutions that uses rigorous evidence to advance excellence and equity in health and health care for all populations from Los Angeles to California and the nation,” Peterson said.

by Tiffany Lopes and Elaiza Torralba


The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.

Faculty Referenced by this Article

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Dr. Ninez Ponce
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