Saturday, April 20, 2019

Guest Blogger: Kristian Ramos “Website will be fixed, Obamacare already helping uninsured Latinos”

Kristian RamosLike Charlie Brown and the football, critics keep kicking at Obamacare, missing badly and ending up with mud on their faces. Sadly they are at it again, this time talking about defunding a law that is overwhelmingly popular with Hispanics over a glitchy website. Healthcare.gov the web portal and latest phase in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) roll out is the focus of renewed ire for Obamacare critics. These same critics who say they want to earn favor with Hispanics would do themselves a huge favor by stopping their quest to defund Obamacare.

Lets get this out of the way up front, this website will be fixed. While a healthy discussion over how to improve Healthcare.gov is welcome, critics are missing the bigger picture. The website is one of several ways the uninsured can gain access to healthcare under Obamacare; it is one component of a larger system that helps 10.2 million uninsured Hispanics.

There are a number of ways to gain health insurance under Obamacare. The uninsured can contact an official health insurance broker to help choose a health insurance policy provided by the law.  They can also apply for health insurance using a paper application which can be found online. The uninsured can apply by phone, they can also use an ACA “specially-trained navigator” to help them find health insurance, and yes, once all of the kinks are worked out, the uninsured can use Healthcare.gov.

The reality is the majority of people who enroll in ACA will do so by using one of these options, not just the website.

Yet this is only half the story.  Since Obamacare was signed into law other pieces of the legislation have been implemented and are overwhelmingly positive for uninsured Hispanics. At a minimum, Obamacare has made 10.2 million uninsured Hispanics eligible for health care coverage they lacked before the law existed.

Obamacare has already helped people like Jessica Ugalde, a recent college graduate who fell seriously ill without having insurance. Under our past healthcare system recent college graduates like Jessica would have lost their health insurance when they left home or graduated. A provision in Obamacare allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26. Because of this provision Jessica was able to stay on her mother’s plan and receive the treatment she needed. Nearly half (46 percent) of all young adults who are uninsured, and may be eligible for coverage in the new marketplaces, could get coverage for $50 or less per month.

Obamacare also ensures insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and it makes preventive services such as annual check-ups and mammograms free of charge.  Hispanic seniors now pay less for prescription drugs, and lifetime caps on coverage are gone.

Obamacare increases funding for community health centers where one out of three patients is Hispanic; these centers offer important primary care and behavioral health services to underserved communities. Increasing funding to these centers ensures our communities are better served with quality healthcare providers.

The uproar over this website is the worst kind of manufactured crisis.  The website will be fixed, and in the meantime the Affordable Care Act already helps millions of uninsured Hispanics. If critics succeeded in defunding Obamacare Hispanics would lose the benefits this law gives them.

Sadly those same critics have no plan to provide access to healthcare for our communities should they actually succeed. While Healthcare.com will be fixed, it is unclear if the same can be said for the warped view of those seeking to defund the ACA.

Let’s hope the critics come to their senses and become part of the solution, instead of just fanning the flames of another manufactured problem.

Kristian Ramos is a political strategist living in Washington D.C. 

This article originally appeared in NBC Latino.