The Selection of Tom Price for HHS Secretary Is Cause for Concern

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Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) Photo: Tom Price Facebook page

We are greatly concerned that Donald Trump’s pick for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Representative Tom Price, will curtail the maintenance of health coverage gains achieved under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In a statement this week, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía questioned the wisdom of the incoming president’s selection.

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There Are Still 45 Days Left to Enroll in Health Coverage!

You may have heard that today, December 15, is the deadline to enroll in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would start on January 1, 2016. Nearly three million people, including one million new consumers, have signed up for health coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace during this enrollment period. Florida leads the charge with 600,000 enrollees, thanks in large part to the hard work of our Affiliates!

2016_Give-the-gift-of-healthcareBut…if you haven’t had a chance to enroll, there’s still time! Whether you are signing up for coverage through the marketplace for the first time or are a returning customer, you still have 45 days to enroll before the January 31 deadline for coverage in 2016.

Health coverage is an important part of ensuring that you and your family stay healthy this year. Having insurance is not just for when you are sick, but can actually help prevent you from becoming sick in the first place. There are now 72 preventive services available free of charge, including screenings for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. By enrolling in coverage, you can invest in the well-being of yourself and your loved ones, and protect your family from unnecessary financial hardship.

If you have not yet gone to the marketplace, it is important to know that financial help is available. Eight out of 10 people who apply for coverage will qualify for financial help through the marketplace, or for free and low-cost coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Last year, those who qualified for financial help received an average tax credit of $270 per month.

If you are a returning consumer, it is also important to understand your 2016 options. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about seven in 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less in monthly premiums after tax credits in 2016. So, shop around for health coverage that best fits your needs and your budget!

As you check off your holiday shopping list, make sure to do something for yourself, and head to healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov to get covered. You can also find local help to answer any questions by visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov or by calling (800) 318-2596.

How to Make the ACA Work for Latino Communities

The third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is well underway. While Latinos still lag behind other groups when it comes health coverage, we are seeing signs of progress as more than four million Latinos have gained coverage since the law was implemented. We’re working to build off those gains and ensure the benefits of the law reach as many in our community as possible. To talk about these efforts, and how we can get more Latinos insured, NCLR hosted a national conference call with our Affiliate Network featuring U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The call also focused on the overall impact of the ACA on the Latino community.

You can listen to the entire call below:


The following are remarks as prepared for delivery, which NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía made at the opening of the call.

Good afternoon, buenas tardes, and thank you all for joining today’s call.

Before I begin, I want to thank the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, for joining us today to discuss a very important and timely issue for our community: the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the Latino community. We’re delighted to have you.

Also joining me are two members of my health team, Rita Carreon, Deputy Vice President of Health, and Steven Lopez, Manager of NCLR’s Health Policy Project.

As the largest civil rights and advocacy organization in the nation working to improve the lives of Hispanic Americans, the National Council of La Raza represents the most uninsured population in the country.

As part of our larger mission to reduce disparities and advance equity, NCLR has long worked to increase the number of individuals with affordable and accessible quality health insurance coverage and care.

As all of us know, the value of health insurance goes beyond better health. We know having access to the basic necessity of good health care improves the lives of people overall. It provides greater financial and social stability to families. It also markedly improves the educational prospects and chances for success later on in life for children. In short, health care is a critical building block of a better life.

All these reasons are why NCLR became deeply involved to make the ACA a reality.

From working with Congress to shape the bill and supporting its eventual passage to commenting during the regulatory period and now executing outreach and enrollment efforts to make sure the promise of the ACA reaches as many Americans as possible, NCLR has been engaged from soup to nuts.

More than four million Latinos have gained coverage since the ACA was implemented in 2010. While we’re certainly encouraged by this progress, we know now is not the time to let up. All of us must keep on working together to bring down the still too-high uninsured rates for Latinos, who are now one in six Americans, one in four Americans under 18, and will represent nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce by 2050.

For NCLR, this has involved—and will continue to involve—an extensive effort across our organization to engage, educate, and enroll Latinos across the country. Through our comprehensive ACA campaign, we will continue to leverage NCLR policy, programs, and communications work and the tools available to us to address enrollment barriers facing Latino and immigrant communities, provide culturally and linguistically appropriate education and outreach materials, and work through the media—particularly Spanish-language media—to promote ACA enrollment and get accurate information out to the community.

And we will continue to emphasize that while these new insurance options are critically important, the benefits of the ACA go beyond that. With new consumer protections and the availability of free preventive services, the ACA has enhanced the value of insurance and health care for millions of Americans.

And I’m proud to say that so many of our Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community organizations in 41 states, DC, and Puerto Rico have been part of this effort.

Our Affiliates represent some of the largest and most effective health care providers to our community in the nation. In fact, one of every two of our Affiliates is involved in health-related work. These are the organizations on the front lines in our community and they are the best possible vehicles to reach Hispanics in this country.

Several of these organizations in places like Texas, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Illinois, and right here in D.C. have been involved in ACA outreach and enrollment efforts, providing in-person enrollment assistance, the type of face-to-face resource our community values and has proven effective in getting our families enrolled.

And not only are they providing assistance in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, they are also working with and reaching some of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities in our country.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country to meet with our Affiliates and hear directly from them on a range of issues impacting the community, including the ACA.

It’s clear that they have their finger on the pulse of how the law is playing out and we will continue to share this insight with HHS as the agency works to create as optimal a consumer experience as possible for all who are eligible.

As we look at the current open enrollment period and further down the road ahead, we know that the Latino community will continue to be key to the success of the ACA.

All current and future outreach and enrollment strategies must have Hispanics in mind, particularly those who are limited English proficient and those who live in mixed-status households.

Before I close, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how critically important Medicaid expansion is for our community.

It’s shameful and inexcusable that millions of low-income Americans, including Latinos, are shut out of an opportunity for meaningful coverage because state leaders have refused to do what’s right for their most vulnerable residents and accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

NCLR has been engaged in advocacy efforts in Texas and Florida in particular and we will continue our push for expansion.

In closing, we know the ACA holds great promise for all Americans, including Latinos, and NCLR looks forward to the opportunities ahead to build on the gains and increase the number of individuals who get covered, stay covered, and effectively use that coverage.

And now it is my pleasure to introduce HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Secretary Burwell, thank you for joining us today and for your leadership. We value the strong partnership we have had with you and your team both as it relates to the ACA, as well as other initiatives to advance a shared goal of improving the health of the Latino community and this great nation.

Open enrollment for ACA ends January 31, 2016, but for those wanting coverage that begins on January 1, you’ll need to enroll by December 15, 2015. Go to healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov to get started!

Millennial Latinos and the Affordable Care Act

We’re joining Young Invincibles this Monday for their weekly Millennial Monday twitter chat. This week, we’ll be chatting about Millennial Latinos and the Affordable Care Act, and how to get them signed up with health coverage. It’s all part of the Department of Health and Human Services Latino Enrollment Week! Details below:

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Join the #SaludTues Twitter Chat to Get Latinos Signed Up for Health Care!

Today we’re joining Salud Today (@saludtoday) for a twitter chat focused on the importance of the Latino community to sign up for health coverage. We’ll be joined by the Department of Health and Human Services (@HHSGov, @HHSLatino), and Enroll America (@GetCoveredUS).

The chat gets started at 1 pm ET. To join the conversation and to ask your own questions about getting health coverage follow #SaludTues on Twitter or via our widget below.

We’re looking forward to chatting with you!