RIP Hank Lacayo, leader for workers, seniors, Latinos, & all of us

As major health issues swirl around us, we at Health Access have reflective this year to see the passing of giants who we have been humbled to work with in various capacities:

Dorothy Rice, the trailblazing economist who played a key role in the creation of Medicare among many other achievements. We were proud to have her on our Health Access Foundation board for a decade, to have her speak for the organization with her experience and values, and honored that she selected our organization as one of the places that people can make a contribution in her memory.

Mike Garcia, the immigrant rights and labor leader who led many Justice for Janitors fights, as the head of an important SEIU local and always on the front lines of key campaigns for immigrant inclusion, health care for all, workers dignity, economic justice, and much more. We greatly appreciated working with him, as coalition allies and in drawing inspiration from his work.

And now we have found out about the passing, at 86, of Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo, the United Auto Workers leader who is a legend in California, particularly in Ventura County and the Central Coast–working to advance the cause of workers, seniors, Latinos, the environment, and many more. In recent years, he has been the longtime president of the Congress of California Seniors, and in that capacity has served as the longtime board member of Health Access California.

Hank and CCS have been a close and great ally in so many fights on health care justice–from working in the legislature and the ballot on prescription drug price reform to defending against health care budget cuts to advancing health reform at the state and federal level. Hank was smart and strategic, always supportive, and had a history of successful advocacy–it was amazing the stories he could tell both about high-ranking political figures as well as on-the-street organizing campaigns. He will be missed by the movement, as well as those who knew him.