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Alex Ortega, PhD

Alex Ortega

Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Center for Population Health and Community Impact
Health Management and Policy, Center for Population Health and Community Impact
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BA, Economics, University of New Mexico;
MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Boston University;
PhD, Epidemiologic Science, University of Michigan


Alex Ortega, PhD, a health policy and health care equity researcher, is Professor and Director of the Center for Population Health and Community Impact in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. He is also a Senior Associate Editor of Health Services Research (HSR), the official journal of AcademyHealth. Ortega is known for his research and public advocacy in improving the health and well-being of Latino youth and families in the United States, especially those who are undocumented immigrants or are otherwise disenfranchised. He has directed NIH, AHRQ, and foundation-funded research for nearly 25 years in a variety of sites and contexts, including Puerto Rico, California, and New England. His observational and intervention research has been in a variety of areas focused on Latino health and health care, including: access to and use of health services for youth and families, the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on population health and health inequities, mental health services and psychiatric epidemiology, and community-engaged interventions to improve food environments in urban food swamps.

He is currently the Principal Investigator of three NIH R01 funded studies. Two are focused on understanding the impact of increasing frequency and intensity of natural and manmade disasters in Puerto Rico on the mental and physical health of the population and on the island’s entire healthcare system. A third study is based in California and is determining the complexities of access to care for mixed status Latino families, where at least one family member is an undocumented immigrant and one is a US citizen, throughout the state. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in health care policy and public health systems. Dr. Ortega previously served on the public health faculties of UCLA and Yale University.


Current Projects

“The Puerto Rico Healthcare System Before and After Three Public Health Disasters”
Contact Principal Investigator: Ortega
Type: R01 MD016426
Period 5/23/22-2/28/27

“Multiple-levels of Influence on Access to Care for Latino Youth and Families”
Contact Principal Investigator: Ortega
Type: 1R01 MD014146
Period 9/26/20-4/30/2025

“Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders in Puerto Rico Before and After Hurricane Maria”
Contact Principal Investigator: Ortega
Type: 1R01 MD013866
Period 5/02/19-12/31/23

Research Interests

  • Latino Health
  • Immigrant Health
  • Health Disparities
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Policy


Vargas-Bustamante A, Chen J, Felix L, Ortega AN. Health policy challenges posed by shifting demographics and health trends among immigrants to the United States. Health Affairs, 2021;40:1028-1037.

Rivera-Gonzalez AC, Stimpson JP, Roby DH, Canino G, Purtle J, Bellamy SL, Ortega AN. The other US border: Health insurance coverage among Latino immigrants in Puerto Rico. Health Affairs, 2021;40:1117-1125.

Ortega AN, McKenna RM, Kemmick Pintor J, Langellier BA, Roby DH, Pourat N, Vargas Bustamante A, Wallace SP. Health care access and physical and behavioral health among undocumented Latinos in California. Medical Care, 2018;56:919.926.

Alcalá HE, Roby DH, Grande DT, McKenna RM, Ortega AN. Insurance type and access to health care providers and appointments under the Affordable Care Act. Medical Care, 2018;56:186-192.

Ortega AN, McKenna RM, Chen J, Alcalá HE, Langellier BA, Roby DH. Insurance coverage and well-child visits improved for youth under the Affordable Care Act, but Latino youth still lag behind. Academic Pediatrics, 2018;18:35-43.

Ortega AN, McKenna RM, Langellier BA, Alcala HE, Roby DH. Experiences in care by parental citizenship and language use among Latino children in California. Academic Pediatrics, 2018;18:20-25.

Mckenna RM, Alcalá HE, Lê-Scherban F, Roby DH, Ortega AN. The Affordable Care Act reduces hypertension treatment disparities for Mexican-heritage Latinos. Medical Care, 2017;55:654-660.

Alcalá HE, Chen J, Langellier BA, Roby DH,Ortega AN. The impact of the Affordable Care Act on health care access and utilization among Latinos. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 2017;30:52-62.

Ortega AN, Albert SL, Chan-Golston AM, Langellier BA, Glik DC, Belin TR, Garcia RE, Brookmeyer R, Sharif MZ, Prelip ML. Substantial improvements not seen in health behaviors following corner store conversions in two Latino food swamps. BMC Public Health, 2016;16:389. PMCID: PMC4864998.

Chen J, Vargas Bustamante A, Mortensen K, Ortega AN. Racial and ethnic disparities in health care access and utilization under the Affordable Care Act. Medical Care, 2016;54(2):140-146. PMCID: PMC4711386.

For a complete listing, please visit PubMed.