Congressional Hispanic Caucus declares “urgent” meeting over ObamaCare

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Reports that the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department had severed ties with the Latino Affordable Care Act Coalition has prompted the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to request an “urgent” meeting with HHS Secretary Tom Price.

CHC chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) and CHC members wrote a letter to Price.  In it, they said the coalition is composed of both local and national organizations which have been “instrumental” in helping “millions of Hispanic families” navigate the healthcare system.

The caucus was “alarmed” that HHS had not already engaged with the advocacy groups, and hope to engage with Price over ObamaCare Latino outreach in preparation for ObamaCare’s open enrollment. The caucus writes that the efforts this year are more critical because the open enrollment period has gone from three months to 45 days.

“Data from four open enrollment periods demonstrate that in-person, in-language, and culturally competent consumer outreach, education and enrollment assistance is the most effective way to engage the Latino community, especially those new to our healthcare system,” the letter stated.

According to the caucus, 4 million Latino adults and over 600,000 Latino children are now covered under ObamaCare, yet one in six Latinos remain uninsured.

“We should work together to ensure that the HHS provides resources, information and properly coordinates with community stakeholders so we can maximize access to health care for all eligible Hispanics and Americans,” the letter says.

Reportedly, ObamaCare advocates worry because HHS has already canceled some outreach grants during the last enrollment cycle.

Below is the full text of the letter the CHC sent to Price:

August 18, 2017
 
The Honorable Thomas E. Price, MD       
Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services                         
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
 
Dear Secretary Price:
 
We are alarmed by reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not engaged key advocacy groups in the Latino Affordable Care Act Coalition in preparation for the start of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) open enrollment period on November 1st. This coalition, composed of local and national organizations, has been instrumental in ensuring that millions of Hispanic families are able to navigate the health care system and enroll in health care plans. 
 
Data from four open enrollment periods demonstrate that in-person, in-language, and culturally competent consumer outreach, education, and enrollment assistance is the most effective way to engage the Latino community, especially those new to our healthcare system. Preparation efforts and resources for Latino outreach are even more critical this upcoming open enrollment period, given the very limited timeframe people have to enroll.
 
The ACA has been instrumental in ensuring that Hispanic families, which have been historically underserved and have disproportionately higher uninsured rates, have access to health care. Thanks to the ACA, four million Latino adults, and more than 600,000 Latino children have gained health coverage. Moreover, we have seen a 20-point decline in the number of uninsured Latinos, which is the largest drop of any ethnic group.  However, one in six Latinos remain uninsured so more work needs to be done to reach these communities.
 
The ACA remains the law of the land.  As the agency tasked with launching a successful 2018 enrollment period, we should work together to ensure that HHS provides resources, information and properly coordinates with community stakeholders so we maximize access to health care for all eligible Hispanics and Americans.  We urge HHS to prioritize Latino outreach and enrollment efforts in the 2018 enrollment period, and request an urgent meeting with you to discuss how the CHC can better work with your agency to ensure that more Hispanic families have access to affordable, quality health coverage and care. 
 
We appreciate your attention to this urgent matter. Please contact CHC Executive Director Alma Acosta at [email protected] to confirm a meeting date and time.
 
Sincerely,
 
CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham
CHC First Vice Chair Joaquin Castro
CHC Second Vice Chair Ruben Gallego
CHC Whip Pete Aguilar
CHC Freshman Representative Adriano Espaillat
CHC Health Task Force Chair Raul Ruiz

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