President Obama To Tout Health Law’s Hispanic Outreach In California

President Barack Obama will emphasize efforts to enroll young Latinos for health coverage under his signature reform law during remarks in San Jose, California on Friday.

Specifically, the president will tout a public-private partnership between the California Endowment and Spanish-language media outlets including Univision, Telemundo, La Opinion, and Radio Bilingue, according to senior administration officials. Obama will hold up this partnership as a “model” for the rest of the country.

White House officials say that such arrangements are critical to overcoming language barriers when reaching out to poor Latinos, especially in highly uninsured states with large Hispanic populations such as California, Texas, and Florida. Over 15 million of America’s 48 million uninsured residents live in just those three states, and the vast majority of them are Hispanic.

The California Endowment will give the Spanish media organizations $225 million to reach out to the public through local television, radio, and print advertising that aims to identify, educate, and enroll uninsured Latinos into the state’s expanded Medicaid program or individual coverage on the Obamacare marketplace. That could prove a lofty goal considering that there are over 4 million uninsured Latinos in the Golden State.

If Obamacare enrollment efforts prove successful, some Hispanics could benefit immensely from access to health coverage. In California, 30 percent of all Hispanics lack health insurance. In Texas and Florida, the figures are 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Many of those Latinos suffer from manageable chronic conditions such as diabetes at almost double the rate that non-Latinos do. With insurance, these Americans will be able to access preventative and primary care services that might prevent their underlying health problem from evolving into a costly — and potentially deadly — ailment.

California has been determined to effectively implement Obamacare by expanding Medicaid, constructing its own insurance marketplace, and aggressively engaging in public education efforts such as the partnership with Spanish-language media. But GOP-led states have proven far more reticent.

Texas legislators recently voted against expanding Medicaid under the health law, which amounts to denying basic health insurance to 1.5 million poor Americans. In Florida, lawmakers shot down Medicaid expansion despite a surprising endorsement of the program by the state’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Neither Texas nor Florida will be operating their own Obamacare marketplaces.

However, many Latinos won’t benefit from the law irrespective of federal or state action. Obamacare explicitly prohibits the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants from accessing Medicaid or federal subsidies to purchase private insurance on the marketplaces.

Even undocumented Latinos who gain provisional legal status under comprehensive immigration reform (if it ends up passing Congress) likely won’t have access to health entitlements, despite the fact that denying them affordable health care access will only exacerbate their medical problems and force the government to pay more for their care in the future.