Considered to be the disproportionately uninsured groups in America, many Latinos do not have health insurance and because of this they have become a keen interest of President Barack Obama to save the Affordable Care Act.
Hoping to get more Americans to sign up under the Affordable Care Act in order to boost enrollment among the nation for the law to succeed, President Obama has been trying to assure Latinos that it is safe to enroll. In one such endeavor the president took part in a televised interview with Latino interviewers to address the Latino community.
During a specialized, town-hall-style event held last Thursday, President Obama appeared on-air to answer questions on the Affordable Care Act. Hosted by two of the country’s largest Spanish language networks Telemundo and Univision, the broadcast was conducted in Spanish for the network’s viewers.
Even though the event was in Spanish, President Obama was able to understand the hosts via an earpiece that fed him the questions which were translated from Spanish into English. The president’s responses to the questions were then translated from English to Spanish for audience members at home.
The purpose of the event was to address the challenges President Obama and his administration have been encountering in-regards to trying to get Americans become insured. One particular issue has been trying to get Latinos in general to enroll, however the hesitation by Latinos may be understandable considering another issue faced by the Obama Administration.
Currently, the immigration law in this country has drawn some noted attention due to the high deportation rate of illegal immigrants in this country. Unlike prior presidents, President Obama has been linked to having a higher deportation rate than his predecessors even though he has been connected to a comprehensive bill that would allow pathways to citizenship for most immigrants. However, the failure to enact the bill in-lieu of the rising deportations has many concerned.
The deportation rate and its connection to our president have some Latinos fearing that by signing up for the Affordable Care Act may risk bringing attention to citizen status. Such a fear was demonstrated on the broadcast itself.
In a video question submitted from California, an undocumented woman with US citizen children aired her grievances about signing her children up for health insurance because she feared that she would be placing herself up for deportation. Her fear is quite common because many Latinos families face the potential of being broken up due to the citizen status, or lack thereof, of one or more family members.
But President Obama tried to reassure the woman from California, and other undocumented citizens watching the telecast.
“None of the information that is provided in order for you to obtain health insurance is in any way transferred to immigration services,” said Obama.
Like the woman from California, other undocumented citizens, and the entire Latino community altogether a questions arises to this fear.
If Latinos are the targeted group to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act why are there no education outlets to help them understand the law and assure no persecution will befall family members who are not legal?
Well, to some the outreach campaigns to get people to enroll failed to truly prove the Affordable Care Act would benefit Latinos.
“I think they’ve cast a very wide net and hoped along the way Latinos specifically would get on board,” said Director Gabriel Sanchez of research for Latino Decision, a leading Latino political opinion research firm. “But they really haven’t done things really culturally sensitive and directed particularly at the Latino population.”
Although there have been some campaigns aimed at addressing why some Latinos are not signing up for health insurance, those campaigns that do exist aren’t enough to reach out to Latinos. Especially when the site for the Affordable Care Act has its own hiccups.
Back in October when the site itself launch, a Spanish-language friendly version of HealthCare.gov wasn’t accessible until December. And when the language site was launched some critics noted that the site was a poorly translated version of the English site which may have been a reason for a lack of enrollees.
But language sites and campaigns aside, one suggestion that could have helped push Latinos into enrolling was not merely by translating English material for the Latino community but creating a specific and unique campaign geared culturally for Latinos.
“It’s not just a health insurance need, it’s an economic need,” said Fernand Amandi, a political consultant discussing how a culturally-conscience campaign would have worked better. “And the fact that there is something within reach, yet it is in this case explicitly being lost in translation is, I think, a great tragedy.”
The period of enrollment into health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will end come March 31st, and while the president has made one broadcast attempt to convince Latinos to enroll—and surly there may be more—only time will tell if the law will be a win for both Latinos and President Barack Obama.