Who We Are

California Health Report is a news site covering health and health policy throughout the state, with an emphasis on disadvantaged communities and populations. We’re non-partisan, grant-funded and editorially independent.

The mission of California Health Report is to find and tell stories about Californians who are disproportionately affected by growing income inequality, the uncertainties surrounding access to health care and the effects of generational poverty. Our goal is to ensure these stories aren’t lost amid dwindling newsroom budgets or the general chaos of our tumultuous political moment.

California Health Report has been covering the Affordable Care Act and the effects of the legislation on disadvantaged populations since reforms started rolling out in 2010, which is also the year we began publishing. At the same time, we’ve reported on community health, which we define broadly, with stories that cover events ranging from the de-escalation of gun violence in Richmond over the past five years to the health risks of California’s escalating temperatures. Our site also offers in-depth coverage of new research in the field of health disparities and solutions-oriented stories that report on new approaches to the entrenched social problems that all too often dictate how long people live.

We tell stories that may not otherwise be reported or are underreported and our work has spurred legislative action. For instance:

  • In June 2014, after a months-long investigation, we discovered that directories of doctors given to low-income patients across California were highly inaccurate, making it difficult for them to get the health care they’re entitled to under state law. Our investigation spurred a state audit — which backed up our reporting — and led to a California law that now requires insurers to update their lists of doctors weekly.
  • In August 2016, we wrote about how a state bill that would have granted farm workers overtime pay failed by four votes. However, legislators resurrected the proposal a few weeks later. It passed and was signed by the governor in September 2016.
  • In June 2015, we were the first to media outlet to report that Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal health plans in Alameda, Contra Costa and Kings counties had consistently failed the Department of Health Care Services’ quarterly assessments by scoring below 40 percent. Alameda and Contra Costa’s plans had been below the minimum performance level since 2011. All three health plans have now improved their performance and are above the minimum level.

We also produce in-depth narrative pieces, telling the stories of Californians who rarely make the front page of the newspaper or the nightly news. We’ve reported on the people left behind by the Affordable Care Act, including undocumented workers. We’ve covered doctors treating victims of genital mutilation in San Diego and the alarming number of deaths caused by drowning among autistic children.

As the only  journalism organization dedicated exclusively to covering health issues in low-income communities, we are uniquely well-positioned to investigate such issues. We are a trusted source of information about the state of health and health care across California. Our reporting has been covered by other media including the Los Angeles Times and reprinted in national, statewide and local outlets.

Our Staff

Heather Tirado Gilligan, Executive Director and Editor

Heather has reported extensively on issues affecting disadvantaged populations and communities. She was an editor at California Health Report for five years before she assumed the position of Executive Director and Editor in March 2017.

Heather’s byline has appeared in publications including Slate, The Nation, HuffPost, Modern Farmer, the Sacramento Bee and the Dallas Morning News. She has won awards and fellowships for her reporting, including the Kaiser Institute for Health Policy/UC Berkeley Fellowship and the UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Fellowship.

Before starting her career as a journalist in 2007, Heather was faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University and a Masters of Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

She lives in Oakland with her wife and daughter.

Hannah Guzik, Assignment Editor

Hannah edits stories about children’s health and aging, and writes investigative stories and features.

As a woman, mother and native Californian, Hannah brings to her work a diverse understanding and moral obligation to do good work. Her recent reporting has focused on disadvantaged populations. An investigative story she wrote in 2014 revealed that doctor directories given to people in California’s low-income health program were highly inaccurate. It spurred a state audit and legislation. With an investigative reporting grant, she wrote an In These Times cover story about how fracking disproportionately impacts California’s poor.

A fellowship through the Maynard Institute allowed her to write about how indigenous farmworkers have little access to mental health services. She also received a 2013 California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship through USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism to write about health challenges faced by farmworkers.

Via the Associated Press, her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee and other newspapers nationwide. She previously worked as a reporter at the Santa Barbara News-Press, Ventura County Reporter, Ashland Daily Tidings and Medford Mail Tribune. She was also a regular contributor to the Ventura County Star. In 2011, she won five Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association awards, including one she shared with a colleague for Best Enterprise Reporting for a series on a catastrophic wildfire.

She lives in Ventura County with her husband and their two children.

Mary Flynn, Managing Editor

Mary covered a broad array of health-related issues for the California Health Report, as well as managing the publication’s social media presence, before assuming the role of Managing Editor in 2017.

Hailing from the highly-underrated state of Wisconsin, Mary is a combat veteran. She spent eight years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, and she served two year-long deployments working in public affairs as a broadcast journalist, telling stories from the soldier’s perspective. Eventually, she became Media Relations team leader for the Joint Task Force in Guantanamo Bay.

Mary is a graduate of the documentary program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she honed her skills in journalism and film production. She’s had a hand in the production of films for the Center of Investigative Reporting (now “Reveal”), HBO, and Stanford’s Clayman Institute of Gender Research, among others.

She cheers on her beloved Green Bay Packers from her home in the Santa Cruz mountains, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a lovable old, stinky dog.

Statement of Editorial Independence

We are a grant funded organization, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support. We retain full authority over our editorial content. We accept no advertising and our content is available to other news organizations free of charge.

Our donors

The California Endowment provides operating funds for our site and helps to fund our coverage of health disparities. The Blue Shield of California Foundation funds our coverage of access to health care and domestic violence.

California Health Report is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.

We are a fiscally-sponsored project of Tides Center, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and the nation’s largest fiscal sponsor. See the most recent Tides Center form 990 here.

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