Press Releases: Mid-Atlantic States
November 3, 2010
Patricia Arzuaga of Kaiser Permanente’s Mid-Atlantic States Named Maryland’s Civil Rights Champion
BETHESDA, Md. — Patricia Arzuaga, senior counsel with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. has been named Civil Rights Champion for 2010 by the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs. She accepted her award from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley before an audience of 500 at the annual luncheon of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Business Conference on Sept. 7.
The Civil Rights Champion award recognizes Arzuaga for her extraordinary contributions to Latino community in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. Her work in support of civil, human and immigration rights includes raising funds for training, education and counseling for underprivileged Hispanic youth; organizing voter registration drives; advocating for the appointment of more Hispanic as judges in Maryland; and serving as a mentor for Latina youth who aspire to complete college and pursue professional careers.
Arzuaga has been on the boards of a number of advocacy organizations, two of which she is especially involved in — Casa de Maryland and the Latin American Youth Center/Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers, which she says “do such great work, and never give up fighting for fairness and open opportunity for everyone.”
For more than three decades, Casa de Maryland has been lending its leadership to such issues as preventing violence against immigrants and promoting workers’ rights — especially for domestic and construction workers, who tend to be predominantly Hispanic and who have been severely affected by the economic downturn. Casa also lobbies for health care for immigrants, both documented and undocumented, and is a strong supporter of the Dream Act, which would allow children of undocumented immigrants who reside in Maryland to obtain in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.
An offshoot of the 40-year-old parent LAYC organization in Washington, D.C., Maryland’s Multicultural Youth Centers was established four years ago to address the needs of the growing numbers of Hispanic youth in the Maryland suburbs around the nation’s capital. Gang prevention is a primary focus of the organization, along with education and job training. Arzuaga points out the MMYC/LAYC’s stay-in-school and GED programs have been quite successful in increasing high school graduation rates and college admissions among Maryland and D.C. Hispanics.
The MMYC/LAYC also partners with national and local organizations, including YouthBuild, Inc., to provide training in the construction and building trades for Latino youth. This training includes not only hands-on skills such as drywall, electrical and plumbing, but entrepreneurial skills that help participants venture out in business on their own.
The Civil Rights Award, Arzuaga says, came as something of a surprise. “I relate to the Casa and LAYC clients because my story is a lot like that of the kids served by LAYC, and the adults of Casa de Maryland,” she says, citing her upbringing in the Bronx projects, the daughter of a couple from Puerto Rico. “My parents came to the mainland so that their kids could have a better life. I was glad when I reached a point in my life when I could give back to my community, and hopefully inspire others to pursue their own dreams.”
She and her brother were the first members of her family to go to college, with Arzuaga’s Yale University education made possible in part through scholarships provided by her parents’ unions. She followed that with a law degree from Harvard University, then embarked on a career that has included posts in the federal government at the departments of Justice and Labor, where she helped develop and implement rules governing portability of health plan coverage and new federal benefit mandates under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Arzuaga also held advocacy positions for America’s Health Insurance Plans and BlueCross BlueShield Association, where she supported the HMO’s lobbying efforts on HIPAA Privacy and Security, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D rules, among others.
Arzuaga joined Kaiser Permanente’s legal department in 2006, and works from the Rockville, Md. offices of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc. She is part of a team of regulatory attorneys providing advice to ensure that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc. products, contracts, marketing and benefit appeals processes conform to federal and state laws. She also provides legal advice on HIPAA privacy issues for the Kaiser Permanente national initiative to develop wellness programs for external employer group customers and Kaiser Permanente employees.
The Maryland Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs advises the governor on how to best meet the needs of the state’s Hispanic community. The Commission is made up of representatives from consumer groups and nonprofits, labor and business leaders. The Civil Rights Award is one of several annual presentations made by the Commission to recognize the achievements of individuals across a range of areas of civic involvement.
About Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States region, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, provides and coordinates complete health care services for almost 500,000 members through 30 medical office buildings in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, founded in 1980, is a total health organization composed of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, P.C., an independent medical group that features approximately 1,000 physicians who provide or arrange care for patients throughout the area. Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States is considered one of Maryland’s “Top HMOs,” according to the Maryland Health Care Commission. The health plan was ranked in the nation’s 100 top commercial health plans and 15 top Medicare health plans — and the #1 Medicare plan for Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — by the U.S. News & World Report/NCQA’s “America’s Best Health Insurance Plans 2009–10.” In addition, it was recently named “Highest in Member Satisfaction,” among Commercial Health Plans by J.D. Power and Associates. For more information about Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, visit www.kp.org.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.