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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 is a health services and policy researcher, and he 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), an official journal of AcademyHealth. Prior to his appointment at Drexel, Professor Ortega served on the public health faculties of UCLA, Yale University, and The Ohio State University. His research has been published in leading journals including Medical Care, Health Affairs, Pediatrics, and American Journal of Psychiatry. His research has been reported in National Public Radio, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Sacramento Bee and other outlets.

Ortega is internationally-recognized for his research and public advocacy in improving the health and well-being of Latino youth and families in the United States, especially for those who are undocumented or are otherwise disenfranchised. He has conducted NIH, AHRQ, and foundation-funded observational and intervention research in different sites and contexts, including Puerto Rico, New England, and California. His work 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 Affordable Care Act (ACA) on population health and health disparities, mental health services and psychiatric epidemiology, and community-engaged interventions to improve population health.

He is a recipient of numerous awards including the Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University School of Public Health and the Distinguished Nationally Known Health Professional Award by the Latino Caucus of the American Public Health Association.

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.