Spanish-language insurance site to launch this weekend
Posted by Jossie Flor Sapunar on 12/11/2013 @ 02:00 PM
This article was originally featured on the Washington Post on Friday, December 6, at 5:24 PM EST.
The Affordable Care Act will help make health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans. For Latinos, the law will address inequities and increase access to quality, affordable health coverage, invest in prevention and wellness, and give individuals and families more control over their care.
As a the preeminent defender of the civil rights of the Latino community in the US, LULAC is committed to addressing health inequities among vulnerable communities, especially among Hispanics. We are delighted to join HHS in your Champion for Coverage initiative and lend our voice to this cause. Visit our Champion for Coverage page to learn more.Read the original blog here.
LULAC on the Washington Post
The Spanish-language version of the federal government’s online health insurance marketplace will go live Friday evening, Obama administration officials said, in what they hoped would be a quiet rollout aimed at working out any bugs before the site is promoted more widely.
The site, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, will allow people to enroll in health insurance electronically in Spanish. Up until now, Spanish-speakers had to find someone who knew English to assist, or fill out a print application.
A fully functional Spanish-language Web site was supposed to launch alongside HealthCare.gov, the main site, on Oct. 1. But officials delayed the rollout as they tended to technical difficulties on the main online portal.
This weekend, several Hispanic advocacy groups will try out the site as part of a “soft launch” aimed at opening it up to a limited group initially. The administration is hoping to get feedback about the design and figure out whether there are any bugs before it is opened up to a larger number of users.
It will then be promoted more widely, particularly in January, when the administration plans to ramp up efforts to reach and enroll Spanish-speakers.
“We think it’s important to work closely with key stakeholders in this effort and get their feedback to improve the experience,” Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
The site is central to the administration’s push to enroll millions of Hispanics, whose participation is viewed as critical to the health law’s success because so many lack insurance. Of the 10.2 million uninsured Latinos who are eligible to get coverage through the marketplaces, about 3.7 million rely on Spanish, officials said. The site has been up since the summer, but its function has been largely informational.
One of the groups planning to test-drive the site is the League of United Latin American Citizens, an advocacy group. Staff members will try to use it this weekend, followed by a small group of consumers in various locations around the Midwest next weekend.
“We have been waiting for the Spanish language tool for a while,” said Liliana Ranon, LULAC’s director of policy and legislation. “We’re hoping with the launch of the Spanish Web site, we’ll have more energy going into the enrollment process,” particularly as the Dec. 23 deadline approaches for people to get health insurance starting Jan. 1.
Some experts have said some of HealthCare.gov’s widely publicized problems could have been headed off if had been launched in a more limited fashion, which would have reduced the crush of Web traffic that contributed to the marketplace’s initial failures.
Supporters Of Immigration Overhaul Remain Focused
Posted by Jossie Flor Sapunar on 12/04/2013 @ 02:00 PM
This blog was originally featured on NPR's blog on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 6:10/8:10am ET. Read the original blog here.
Activists Cristian Avila (left), Dae Joong Yoon and Eliseo Medina ended their fasting for immigration reform after 22 days in Washington, D.C. [Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP]
By: Hansi Lo Wang
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a lengthy to-do list before they head home for the holidays. Near the top is an issue deemed a priority after last year's election — immigration reform. So far, only the Senate has passed a bill.
Despite the standstill, supporters of immigration reform are pushing to keep the issue alive on a crowded legislative slate.
For a group of protesters on the National Mall, the strategy has become dramatic and drastic. After 12 days of no food, just water, dark rings circle the eyes of activist Rudy Lopez.
"The hunger has gone from sharp pain to now more of a constant companion that I've gotten used to," says Lopez, a community organizer from East Chicago, Ind., with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
He's part of a rotating cast of activists, including union and faith leaders and now Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, fasting to put pressure on the House of Representatives to take up immigration reform.
A 'Very Important Issue'
Lopez says he plans to fast until his body "can't continue," stressing that none of the demonstrators has a "martyrdom syndrome" in mind.
Instead, the group is trying to raise awareness of the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. who, the protesters insist, should have a path to citizenship. It's a message that President Obama, two House Republicans from California and other politicians have heard firsthand during recent visits with the group.
Eddie Carmona, a citizenship campaign manager for PICO, a network of faith-based community organizers, started fasting Saturday. He says they've gained lawmakers' attention, but they're still waiting for legislative action.
"We need to see [lawmakers] move legislation forward, and we need to see [House Speaker John Boehner] move legislation to the floor for a vote," Carmona says.
At a recent press conference, Boehner called immigration reform a "very important issue" that has been the focus of behind-the-scenes discussions on Capitol Hill.
"Is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not," Boehner told reporters. "I've made clear going back to the day after the last election in 2012 that it was time for Congress to deal with this issue."
Patience, though, among some activists is running thin.
A speech on immigration by Obama was interrupted last week in San Francisco by Ju Hong, an unauthorized immigrant from South Korea.
"You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country," Hong told the president.
"Actually, I don't. And that's why we're here," responded Obama, who stressed the need for a legislative solution.
Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, strongly supports the push for immigration reform. But he's operating on a different timeline.
"The real clock is this session of Congress doesn't end until next December," says Wilkes, who expects that the House will vote on immigration bills by April or May.
"This has been a long, long process for us, well over 20 years, and we're not so impatient that we can't wait four more months," he adds.
Other supporters of immigration reform say the wait has lasted long enough.
"We want action now, and we will continue to demand action now," says Cristina Jiménez, managing director of United We Dream, a network of organizations advocating for young immigrants.
"For us, it's not about the timeline that the legislators say," Jiménez explains. "If we were to be guided by the legislators' timeline, we will never have certainty on the fight that we need to lead for our communities."
Jiménez's group recently helped organize a protest outside Boehner's home in Washington, D.C. — part of a wave of demonstrations around the country that have focused on winning support in Congress.
Despite the pressure, Boehner has told reporters that he remains committed to taking a "deliberative" approach.
"The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time," Boehner said at a news conference.
Those steps are taking too long for activists like Jiménez, who says her group plans to push the president to take executive action in 2014.
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