With two weeks left to purchase health insurance to be effective Jan. 1, the Dept. of Health and Human Services announced the soft launch of its Spanish-language enrollment option under the Affordable Care Act. The Department is hoping to encourage enrollment through the site after January 1.
The site was originally supposed to go live on October 1, but was indefinitely delayed when technical difficulties with Healthcare.gov forced the federal agency to redirect resources away from the Spanish site in order to work on a round-the-clock debugging effort.
"This shows a stunning lack of respect for the Hispanic community, and a lack of concern for the uninsured - particularly those who may have lost their insurance because of the health care law, said Daniel Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, a non-profit,grassroots organization with close ties to the Koch family, according to The Center for Public Integrity.
However, HHS spokesman Fabien Levy said the approximate number of Spanish-language calls to Healthcare.gov's toll-free help line have only accounted for three percent of the total volume of calls. The low call volume suggests that a majority of Hispanics are either bilingual, or enrolling through an English-speaking family member or assistant such as a healthcare navigator, or are not ready to enroll. Levy said the delay of CuidadoDeSalud.gov allowed the website to benefit from the fixes made to its sister site Healthcare.gov.
Hispanics account for over 60 percent of Miami-Dade's resident population. According to the 2006 Census, about 29 percent of the county's Hispanic residents are Spanish-only speakers.
Garza, a GOP operative, launched LIBRE to help galvanize the Latino conservative vote for the 2012 election. With Republicans seizing on Obamacare as a potential campaign weak spot for Democrats, the Spanish healthcare website, like the English one, offers ammunition for LIBRE's next political season campaigns.