Failure and missing benchmarks seems to have become the norm for the Obama Administration as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues its plagued rollout. This time, they’ve targeted the Hispanic community, hoping that the more than 10 million Latinos now eligible for coverage will be able to boost enrollment numbers during the law’s inaugural year.
In what was relatively a quiet mobilization effort, left-leaning Hispanic organizations, including the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), organized events across the country to educate and enroll members of this Hispanic community in ACA plans. The Twitter-sphere was abuzz with calls to “#GetCovered” (“#Asegurate” in Spanish) during the “ACA Latino Week of Action” and what others termed the “National Latino Enrollment Week”:
Conference call to discuss Latino Enrollment Week of Action starts at 1pm ET. Dial dial (800) 288-8975 and ask for the “White House call.”— Minority Health (@MinorityHealth) February 24, 2014
The week rolled out at the local, grassroots level, with no taxpayer-funded, “witty” internet meme to kick-off the occasion. In fact, for all the effort the White House has put into wooing a demographic with such significant influence, it was interesting to note the distance officials have kept from this initiative. Aside from tweets linking the week’s orchestration to the Administration, a U.S. Department of Education blog, and a brief mention in an NBC article, the White House made no public announcement to commemorate the week, with one exception:
But silence from the Administration did not stop Republicans from using this week as an opportunity to inform Latinos of the harmful effects the ACA has had on this particular community:
In an English version of the op-ed authored by House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, GOP leadership highlighted the even bigger disaster that was the Spanish-language rollout of the health care exchange:
“Despite the disappointments and failures that have accompanied the launch of Obamacare, the White House has designated this week as ‘National Latino Enrollment Week” – while simultaneously hiding the full story about the law’s impact of Hispanic families.
While many people suspected the implementation of Obamacare would be problematic, it wasn’t until the launch of the website – in October of last year – that its failure became widespread. Hispanics faced an English website that suffered from unexpected outages and countless glitches. The website was not properly secure from hackers and criminals – and users’ private medical information was immediately at risk. Hispanics were promised a Spanish-language website with easy access to information, but after years of planning, the Administration launched the Spanish website months behind schedule.”
On Thursday, House members took to the Floor to voice concern for their constituents having to deal with the aftermath of ACA implementation. Representative Bill Huizenga (MI-02) used his one-minute to call out the Administration for their appalling botch of CuidadoDeSalud.gov – the Spanish-language Healthcare.gov:
“If you thought the Obama Administration's roll out of healthcare.gov was bad, believe it or not … it gets worse.
After being delayed for two months, the Administration finally unveiled its Spanish Language website CuidadoDeSalud.gov that contained an embarrassing amount of ‘Spanglish.’
Frankly, it's insulting that the Administration would simply make up words rather than provide an accurate translation of the President's signature achievement.”
Representative Jeff Denham (CA-10) followed-suit, pointing out the financial hurdles that Americans nationwide now face when dealing with ACA provisions:
“The Latino community, like Americans nationwide, is discovering that it just can’t afford the Affordable Care Act. In the Central Valley, Latinos already struggle to access doctors and hospitals, and the President’s healthcare law only exacerbates that problem. Not only is it causing them to lose coverage, see their premiums rise and have their healthcare plans cancelled, the Spanish site the administration promised would help Latinos enroll reads like it was written by a first-year Spanish student and has proven to be even glitchier than the English version of Healthcare.gov.”
But, just like the rest of America, Latinos are learning that it’s not only the lack of information, access, and functionality that hurts their community. Last week, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report that revealed the extent of the ACA’s heavy blow to small businesses. According to the report, “65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions.” Executive Director of The Libre Initiative, Daniel Garza, made a statement this week, specifically speaking to this issue:
"Latinos create new businesses at twice the national rate and accounted for nearly 20 percent of all new entrepreneurs in 2012. They deal with costly and intrusive regulations, onerous taxes, and an extremely challenging economic environment. When they survive and thrive, they are a critical contributor to job creation and new hiring. This news - which comes during what the White House is calling 'Latino Enrollment Week' - is extremely disappointing, but not surprising, given the broken promises we have seen so far.
Real health care reform would seek to empower doctors and patients, preserve the best parts of the current system, expand choice, and promote competition to reduce costs and encourages innovation. Unfortunately, small business owners are the latest to see that the promises that were made have not come true. It turns out that those who have benefitted from this law are mostly those who have been exempted from it, and a significant portion of the losers have been our country's most vulnerable."
The fact is, the President’s idealistic promises do nothing to save a demographic that has been historically under-served when it comes to obtaining adequate health coverage. More importantly, despite large Hispanic support in 2008 and 2012, it doesn’t appear that this demographic can save the Obama Administration from a failed legacy with very little national support.
For any chance to build successful and lasting health care reform, Republicans should continue their outreach to all communities, so that the party can re-gain lost ground, win elections, and enact smart alternatives for the benefit of all.