On the Issues: Healthcare - Joe Simitian


Joe believes that healthcare is a fundamental human right. He has improved healthcare for us through fresh ideas and partnerships. He leads initiatives that increased access to mental healthcare, lower the cost of life-saving medications and protect our hospitals and reproductive rights.

Joe has a track record of fighting for reproductive rights. After the local Planned Parenthood (Mar Monte) lost its space in northern Santa Clara County, he helped develop a shared-use partnership with Planned Parenthood that actually expanded their services. In fact, Planned Parenthood dedicated the lobby in his honor. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Joe took swift legal action to protect reproductive rights in our region, state and nation — authoring the Board of Supervisors resolution that declared the County a Defender of Reproductive Freedom.

Joe wrote legislation that improves breast cancer screening, helping patients detect their conditions earlier and saving lives. His state legislation required that women with dense breast tissue be notified and advised that dense breast tissue could make it harder to detect cancer on a mammogram. The approach he pioneered is set to take effect nationally in 2024.

Joe spearheaded the Youth Behavioral Health Crisis Center, Santa Clara County’s first emergency inpatient psychiatric hospital for children and teenagers, currently under construction. He opened the State’s first mental health “alcove” center for teens and young adults. Joe also initiated the creation of the county’s “Mental Health Navigator” program, which makes it easier for residents with mental health challenges to get access to resources.

Joe launched the MedAssist program in Santa Clara County to subsidize the high costs of lifesaving prescriptions including Epi-Pens, insulin and inhalers for qualifying residents with allergies, diabetes, and asthma.

And, the state law Joe wrote in the legislature is now being used in Santa Clara County to provide free prescriptions at the County’s Better Health Pharmacy – with unused prescription medications being redirected (for free) to those who need them.

Because Joe knew that 400,000 folks in the northern and western parts of Santa Clara County did not have a county-run health clinic, he spearheaded an initiative to bring services to the community. In 2022, Santa Clara opened its first specialty care clinic and pharmacy in the northern part of the county. A full-service County Health Clinic will open in North County in 2024, and plans are underway for a county clinic in the West Valley on the De Anza College campus.