José Padilla’s legal expertise and passion for the improving conditions in his community make him an ideal fit for Lumin’s innovative approach to health care. The son of Honduran immigrants, Padilla followed a path of self-determination and hard work, which got him into Harvard. His background includes litigation, venture capital law, corporate health care, and a run for US congress. Prior to being named GC for Lumin Health, he worked in international law while at gaming technology company Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. Padilla’s is a quintessentially American story, and he holds himself up as an example to younger Hispanics that the American dream is attainable through will and hard work.
Hispanic Executive: Since HE last spoke with you in 2013, you’ve moved from Nevada to Texas to take on the position of general counsel for Lumin. What does Lumin do differently?
José Padilla: Lumin is determined to be innovative and illuminate a path towards better ways to provide patient care. Many health care regulations appear to be designed with the assumption that patients aren’t intelligent and can’t make decisions. We’re focused on giving patients choices with care driven by physicians—not administrators. Lumin provides a top-quality hospital and concierge medicine for the every-man. We offer family care with urgent care hours. Patients can receive primary care without appointments with insurance or at an affordable cash price. Urgent care patients have access to a specialist within 48 hours.
What makes you passionate about your current role?
I’m working to push change from the inside that will ultimately help patients. As an attorney, I fulfill a special role in an industry that is highly regulated and dependent on legal restrictions. I make sure Lumin is compliant but I also find ways to advocate for change so others may never feel the frustrations I’ve felt. I was the first in my family to go to high school. When my parents went to the doctor, I translated for them. I felt doctors talked down to us. We didn’t always understand what was going on. I often felt powerless. It was then that I realized I needed to become educated.
Now, I put myself in those patients’ shoes. I want people to understand what’s going on. One thing I’ve done is to make sure our patient forms as clear as possible.
You accomplished your goal of transitioning from assistant general counsel to general counsel. What was the transition like?
When I was assistant general counsel, the final decisions were not mine. Now, I have more responsibility and control. The buck stops with me. I have passionate opinions based on facts and laws, and now I have the chance to make them a reality. However, with greater control comes more responsibility. People rely on me to offer correct advice. They look up to me. I can’t make mistakes.
What advice do you have from your executive-level point of view for the younger Hispanic generation?
Don’t be intimidated. I grew up thinking lawyers and executives were smarter and tougher than I could ever be. But I learned that you can get there, or anywhere you want, if you keep trying your best. You can stand out by being reliable. People take notice of that. I have a humble background and I always wanted to go to Harvard. Some people said it wasn’t possible for someone like me. But I thought I would work my hardest and just try anyway, and I got in. You have to keep in mind that no one is perfect. But as long as you keep trying your best, people will respect that.
Do you feel you have a responsibility to serve as an example for your community?
Yes. I just moved to Dallas, and my goal is to get involved with my new community. I want to go to schools and talk to young people as well as get involved in Lumin’s scholarship program.
I have a uniquely American background. My parents were illiterate but had a son who went to a top-tier college and became a lawyer and general counsel. That’s an American story—and there are a lot of others like me.
I found, in speaking to young people and through several surveys, many kids think that success only comes through luck, in-born talent, or family connections—that hard work does not matter as much as things beyond their control. My life is a testament to the fact that hard work can bring success. I had to build my network. People helped me because I reached out to them. I love that about America: there are plenty of people willing to help if you just ask. I want to inspire younger generations to understand that hard work can get you far no matter where you come from.
In 2014, when you were living in Las Vegas, you ran for Congress. Why?
First, as a health care lawyer, I was frustrated by the lack of health care reform in the Affordable Care Act. Second, in the Las Vegas Congressional district, half of the population is Hispanic, so Hispanic demographics are growing, but politically, they’re still underrepresented and misunderstood. I wanted to try and change that. Education is the key to success, but according to studies, only four out of 10 Hispanics graduate from high school in Las Vegas. Also, as a Republican, I wanted to run and show that people like me exist in the Hispanic community.
I lost, but I became known for my opinions, which led to my job at Lumin. I distrust those who run for office just for power and figure out the issues later. I had issues that I was passionate about. I would only run again with a specific goal to help people—and if there was an issue around that goal that my specific expertise would benefit.
You’ve worked in some vastly different industries. What do you think is your primary form of service to the world?
I have a new baby boy. My primary service to the world is to raise a good child and to make sure he has a good family. I also want to be an example for those that may feel alone and powerless. That’s how I grew up. I was an awkward kid who couldn’t get a date. I had no money, no looks, and no fancy family name. But, I was raised with the idea if I worked hard, life would get better. That’s why I want to inspire those who may feel hopeless today. Life may be bad today, but it is in our grasp to make tomorrow better.