2016 NCLR Annual Conference: Day Three Recap

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The third and final day of the 2016 NCLR Annual Conference started bright and early with a breakfast that featured actor and activist Wilson Cruz followed by a lively discussion with three Latina immigrants. They shared their inspiring immigration stories and encouraged our community to vote.

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The Benefits of Restoring KidsCare for Arizona’s Children and Families

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Photo: Children’s Action Alliance facebook page

All children deserve the opportunity to grow up healthy and thrive, and access to quality, affordable health coverage is critical to making that happen. Research shows that children with health coverage have greater academic success and increased economic opportunities as adults. However, for too many children in Arizona, this opportunity is out of reach. Arizona is the only state in the country without an active Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as KidsCare in Arizona, a key coverage option for low-income children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but may not be able to afford coverage in the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

Increasing opportunities for health coverage in Arizona is particularly important for Latino children. With one out of eight Latino children in Arizona uninsured, or 89,000 children, Arizona has the fourth-highest number of uninsured Latino children in the country, behind only California, Texas, and Florida. Programs like KidsCare are especially meaningful for Latino children and their families. A recent survey of CHIP enrollment numbers in 10 states found that Latino children accounted for more than half of enrollees. In neighboring Nevada, which recently leapfrogged Arizona in the children’s health insurance rankings, more than 75 percent of CHIP enrollees are Latino.

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The ACA Turns Six!

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On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the historic Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Six years later, the ACA has helped millions of Americans, including Latinos, gain access to health coverage, while improving the quality of that coverage. To mark the sixth anniversary of the ACA, here are six ways the the law has improved access to quality health coverage for the Latino community, along with a couple of opportunities to build on this progress:

  1. Thanks to the ACA, more Latino adults have health coverage than ever before.

Over four million Latino adults have gained health coverage because of the ACA, reducing the Latino uninsurance rate from one in three in 2010 to one in five in 2014.

  1. Nearly one million Latino children have gained health coverage.

Thanks to provisions in the ACA like Medicaid expansion, as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Latino child uninsurance rate has dropped from one in six in 2009 to one in 10 in 2014. Research shows that when parents have coverage, their kids are more likely to have coverage.

  1. Significantly more Latino young adults have access to health coverage.

Between 2010 and 2014, the uninsurance rate for Latino young adults (aged 18–24) declined from 4% to 24.8%. Thanks to the ACA, young adults can stay on their parents’ health plan, or they can shop for their own plan on the health insurance marketplace.

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Get Covered and Avoid the Penalty!

DiabetesAlert_blogpicBy now you’ve no doubt heard about the many reasons to sign up for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) open enrollment period, which ends January 31. Access to health care services such as a primary care doctor, free preventive services, and peace of mind for you and your family if someone gets sick are all compelling reasons. But there’s another important, practical reason to get covered: those who are not covered by January 31 may have to pay a fine at tax time.

In 2016, the tax penalty for not having health insurance will increase to $695 per individual ($347.50 per child) or 2.5 percent of household income. The amount of the penalty depends on which number is greater. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, among individuals who were uninsured in early 2015 and eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan, the average penalty in 2016 is $969.

AKA-RegistrationThere is good news, though. Financial help is available for those who have yet to purchase an ACA marketplace plan. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), eight out of 10 people eligible for marketplace coverage are also eligible for financial help.

In 2016, HHS estimates that seven in 10 returning marketplace customers will pay a monthly premium of $75 or less.

In many cases, having health insurance is more affordable than not having insurance and paying the penalty.

In this last week of open enrollment, many uninsured Latino families face a choice: either pay a tax penalty and lack access to critical health care services, or head to the marketplace and shop for a plan that fits their health needs and their budget.

Protect yourself from an unwelcome gift at tax time or debilitating medical bills that could threaten your financial security.

January 31 is the last day to sign up for health coverage at healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov. If you have questions, bilingual help is available for free by phone or in person. To see what local assistance is available in your area, call (800) 318-2596 or head to localhelp.healthcare.gov. This week make sure to look at your options, choose a health plan that fits your budget, and avoid the penalty!

Affiliate Spotlight: How the NCLR Affiliate Network Contributes to Organizational Success

By David Castillo, Digital Content Manager, NCLR

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Jose Rodriguez (far right) accepts the 2015 NCLR Affiliate of the Year Award in Kansas City.

This month in the Affiliate Spotlight, we’re featuring El Concilio, our Affiliate based in the heart of the San Joaquin Central Valley of California. This Affiliate has worked hard to position themselves as the hub of resources for the Latino community for the past 48 years. With a strong commitment to community service and by establishing lasting relationships with other community organizations, federal, state, and local elected officials, El Concilio constantly works to improve the lives of those in their community.

Their work has not gone unnoticed. Last year, NCLR recognized El Concilio with our 2015 Affiliate of the Year award. The group is also hosting our upcoming NCLR Affiliate Network Peer Exchange, generously supported and made possible by the Ford Motor Company Fund. For El Concilio’s President and CEO, Jose Rodriguez, the Peer Exchange is an opportunity to share with other Affiliates their own best practices and policies that have helped turn this community-based organization into the cherished resource it is.

Rodriguez credits El Concilio's membership in the Affiliate Network with helping the organization grow.

Rodriguez credits El Concilio’s membership in the Affiliate Network with helping the organization grow.

El Concilio’s mission is simple: to improve the quality of life of Latinos in the Central Valley of California. It was founded in 1968 by a group of community activists and clergy who wanted to start an organization that would serve the growing migrant farmworker community. The original scope of Concilio’s work was limited to things like translation services, employment search assistance, and general advocacy. Over the years, however, it has expanded its array of services to include Head Start programs, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, civic engagement, and parent engagement programs, among others. Its humble beginnings included 28 employees and a one million dollar operating budget. Today, El Concilio boasts more than 200 employees, a $10 million operating budget, and it serves more than 25,000 people per year.

Rodriguez attributes much of El Concilio’s success to its membership within the NCLR Affiliate Network. “[NCLR’s Affiliate Network] contributed to our growth and success because we’ve been able to connect with other Affiliates. We’re able to learn from other orgs what they’re doing; how they’re solving some of the issues,” said Rodriguez. “NCLR leads the way by providing information to us and the research they do, which helps us then develop trainings. It has been the ace in our back pocket.”

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One of the areas where El Concilio shines is in its civic engagement work. Recognizing the need in the Central Valley, El Concilio has integrated civic engagement into everything it does. “A lot of times people think civic engagement is political and tend to shy away,” said Rodriguez. “We hope to help folks understand that it’s about advocacy and empowering our clients to be able to advocate for themselves and really educate them about what’s going on.”

At El Concilio, every client who walks in is greeted with the question of whether they’re registered to vote and if they have health care. This ensures that no opportunity is lost for those eligible to register to vote and gain health care. The group has also fostered healthy competition among its staff. Employee buy-in is critical to ensuring success, Rodriguez says. Every year El Concilio sets a goal of registering 2,500 people, and individual program teams set goals for themselves, too. The approach has worked and the organization often far exceeds its original goal.

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El Concilio was also a key player in the fight for the California Homeowner’s Bill of Rights. The group was instrumental in organizing town halls with Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, and these town halls helped her develop the landmark legislation. Rodriguez hopes to share some of the wisdom behind their strategies for relationship- and network-building at the Affiliate Peer Exchange later this month.

It’s this spirit of sharing that Rodriguez finds most beneficial about the Affiliate Network and why he hopes as many Affiliates as possible can attend the convening. “We consider ourselves very fortunate to have received the NCLR Affiliate of the Year Award, because when you look at the Affiliate Network, there are some that are doing an extraordinary amount of work,” said Rodriguez. “Some are bigger than others, but at the end of the day, it’s about getting engaged and putting your best foot forward.”

If you’re an NCLR Affiliate, sign up and register for the NCLR Affiliate Peer Exchange. We’ll see you in Stockton, CA!