(President Barack Obama speaks about the new health care law, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. The president said his signature health care law “is working and will work into the future.” Obama said the benefits of the law have “gotten lost” in recent months as attention focused on the widespread problems that crippled the website where people can sign up for health insurance. On stage with the president are Americans the White House says have gained as a result of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster))

Obama: Health care law here to stay, while groups work to ensure Latino enrollment

The rollout of the health care website might have been off to a rocky start, but Obama said today the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will not be repealed under his watch.

“If I’ve got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that’s what I’ll do,” said Obama in a speech Tuesday in Washington, DC. The administration will be holding events and touting the importance of enrollment for the rest of the month.

On Monday Voto Latino and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, two organizations who support the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for the Latino community, held a discussion to talk about digital outreach campaigns and the importance of ensuring that Hispanics enroll in insurance coverage plans despite the early website woes.

“Trying to get young, healthy people to be part of the system is incredibly important. We recognize that Latinos have the highest uninsured rates, and that’s in part, because they’re much younger than the rest of the population,” said Voto Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar.

“The average white American is roughly 43 years old, but the average Latino is 26 years old,” Kumar added. “They’re not only at their prime, they’re also more likely to say, ‘I’m never going to get sick,’ and less likely to enroll for health insurance. That’s why this population is so important.”

Though enrolling in a health plan through the Spanish-language website cuidadodesalud.gov is not yet possible, the site does refer Spanish-language users to a phone number where they may receive assistance in signing up for insurance.  The Spanish-language website should be operational shortly, according to officials.

In the meantime, administration officials like Mayra Alvarez,  associate director of the Office of Minority Health under the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged the importance of the organizations who are disseminating information to Latinos on the new health care law.  “The federal government never intended to succeed alone, and the fact is, we are only as successful as the organizations that partner with us,” said Alvarez.

Gabriel Sanchez, interim director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, expressed concern that the Spanish-language website delay could affect Latino enrollment, stating in a Latino Decisions post that “the setbacks could be detrimental to the effort to enroll a large number of Latinos.”

In a national Latino poll on the ACA, 30 percent of Latinos who had gone without insurance for at least part of a given year wanted healthcare website information in Spanish. Another 39 percent of Latinos preferred ACA information in both languages.

Despite the website delays and glitches, administration officials – as well as Obama – are touting the positive.

“Do not let the initial problems with the website discourage you, because it’s working better now, and it’s just going to keep on working better over time,” the president said.

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