Administration steps up Hispanic outreach on Obamacare

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The Obama administration said Tuesday that 8 in 10 Hispanic Americans may qualify for government-funded health insurance or financial assistance to pay for private plans on Obamacare markets.

That percentage would jump to 95 percent if every state decided to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services.


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The report on health care access among Hispanics is part of the administration’s push to get segments of the population — young people, women and minorities among them — to apply to state-based health exchanges with little more than six weeks left to sign up. The health overhaul’s open enrollment period began Oct. and ends on March 31.

“The health care law addresses longstanding inequalities that have affected minority communities across the nation, including lack of access to affordable health insurance coverage,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

HHS said one in four uninsured Americans who are eligible for plans on the Obamacare markets is Hispanic, or about 10.2 million out of 41.3 million people. The majority of them — 62 percent — live in California, Texas and Florida and about half are between the ages of 18 and 35, a younger, healthy demographic that is key to making the law’s economic work.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has pushed Texas and Florida to promote the law and expand Medicaid to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but Republican lawmakers in those states have told her to take her message elsewhere.

Conservatives say the law is unworkable, and that expanding Medicaid would bust their stretched state budget down the road.

HHS said 3.9 million of the 10 million-plus Hispanics who can use the Obamacare markets would be eligible for subsidies to defray the cost of private health plans, and about 4.2 million could be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The administration had trouble launching the Spanish-language version of HealthCare.gov, called CuidadoDeSalud.gov, but told consumers Monday to check out the revamped version. However, HHS said they’re committed to a bilingual outreach, because 63 percent of uninsured Hispanics speak English as a first language or “very well” as a second language.

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