Latino Lawyer Lobbies to Prevent Cuts to Medi-Cal

As General Counsel for the California Medical Association, Francisco J. Silva represents more than 35,000 state physicians

By Marvin Pineda
Published on LatinoLA: November 8, 2011

Latino Lawyer Lobbies to Prevent Cuts to Medi-Cal

During major changes in the health care industry, Francisco J. Silva, as General Counsel for the California Medical Association (CMA), represents more than 35,000 state physicians and successfully prevents the State of California from cutting health services for disadvantaged communities.

Francisco the youngest of seven children was born in Sonora, Mexico to Eva Ruelas Silva and Rafael Silva Puentes. The family migrated from Mexico to Salinas, California when Francisco was four years old. Like his older brothers and sisters, Francisco was expected to work in the agricultural fields along-side his mom and dad.

Because of the discipline and work ethic required by agricultural labor, Francisco learned at an early age the value of hard work and the privilege of obtaining an education. After completing a fellowship at the State Capitol as a budget consultant, Francisco earned his jurist doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles. After law school, Francisco was a judicial law clerk for a federal district judge, the Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs for the California Apartment Association and a litigation attorney at Heller Ehrman LLP and Downey Brand LLP.

Currently, as General Counsel for the CMA, Silva lobbies on behalf of physicians at the state capitol and supports doctor- and patient-friendly litigation in the courts. Recent lawsuits include efforts to prevent the State of California from cutting Medi-Cal.

In the past, Francisco successfully organized and implemented litigation efforts to prevent the state of California from implementing multiple cuts to the Medi-Cal program, which provides coverage for more than six million low-income children and families as well as elderly, blind, or disabled individuals. Francisco believes that protecting the Medi-Cal program from budget cuts should be a top priority for Latinos since approximately 2.9 million of the Medi-Cal beneficiaries are Latino. This number will grow significantly as a result of the health care reform legislation that has expanded those eligible to receive Medi-Cal coverage. Currently, Silva and his team's efforts have kept the doors open for Latinos to have access to Medi-Cal.

When Francisco is not working, he is with his family and working with disadvantaged youth. He founded and the Gil Basketball Academy and the California Basketball Academy. These two non-profits were formed as a counter-force to rising gang violence and low educational achievements by students in the Salinas and Sacramento areas. Through these organizations, Francisco intends to teach youth the value of hard work and perseverance.

Francisco and his wife Soyla Fernandez, also started the Silva Fernandez Family Fund, with the purpose ÔÇô and sense of responsibility ÔÇô to provide financial support to organizations and groups positively impacting the lives of farm worker and Latino families. Supporting community efforts like a basketball academy, scholarship programs, leadership development, diabetes research and others, the Fund meets Francisco and Soyla's most sincere objective to give back to their hometown communities and improve the quality of life for children and families not too different from them. Francisco believes that through sports, arts and other extracurricular opportunities, youth can excel in school and be successful in life.

Silva believes that access to health care for disadvantage communities is crucial as families have limited resources. He also believes that by sharing his story and career path and mentoring youth, he can have a positive influence in the community.

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