Healthcare and Latinos
Healthcare has always been a critical need for Latinos. Fortunately, children in most need have been covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) since 1997. Unfortunately, prior to 2010 more than 40 percent of Latinos did not have health insurance coverage.
During the time I served on the St. Anthony Hospital Community Advisory Council (2004-2010), the former Hospital CEO lamented, “The health care system is broken.” Millions of low income Americans were using the most expensive part of the system for their health care: the hospital emergency room. The safety net didn’t work and many died because they received heath care too late. A high percentage of Latinos were among those who lost their lives because of inadequate health insurance coverage.
These were the conditions when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. In March 2010 after extensive hearings and debate, the President and Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare. As Obamacare was implemented, millions of Latinos gained health insurance. According to Voto Latino, the uninsured rate for Latinos fell from 43.2 percent in 2010 to 24.8 percent in 2016. The uninsurance rate for Latino children declined from 11.5 percent in 2013 to 7.5 percent by 2015. This meant that 676,000 Latino children gained health insurance coverage. Obamacare has enabled Latinos of all ages to access adequate health care.
The repeal of the ACA (Obamacare) would have a devastating impact on Latinos. As Voto Latino reports, since the passage of the ACA, 8.8 million Latinos (4.9 million Latinas) with private health insurance have received expanded preventive health benefits. Over 900,000 Latino adults, between the ages of 19 and 26, have been able to stay on their parent’s insurance.
Remind Congress to vote against legislation that would repeal or reduce these important ACA benefits for our Latino families.
Baca is a former Colorado State Senator and Colorado House of Representative.