On Monday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius marked Hispanic Heritage Month by touting the Affordable Care Act for expanding health care benefits to the Latino community, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
According to "Healthwatch," Latinos are less likely to have adequate coverage than the general population. Sebelius acknowledged that disparity, saying, "Too many Latinos live sicker and die younger in America than they should."
Sebelius said, "In the future, up to nine million Latinos will have access to affordable health insurance because of the availability of tax credits and better access to Medicaid made possible by the health care law." She also pledged to "renew our commitment to promote health and wellness for the Latino community."
Sebelius' statement implied that the ACA is a financial investment for Latinos, according to "Healthwatch." She said, "During Hispanic Heritage Month, we can celebrate the progress we have made in ensuring that all Americans, including Latinos, have a fair shot at the quality, affordable health care that they and their families need and deserve," adding that "in doing so, we are investing in our entire nation's physical and economic well-being" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/17).
Young Undocumented Residents Ineligible for ACA Coverage, White House Says
In related news, a recent decision by the Obama administration to prohibit young undocumented residents from gaining access to health insurance coverage under the ACA could help President Obama avoid criticism that the health reform law is benefiting undocumented residents and save money by limiting the number of people who receive federally subsidized coverage, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 9/17).
In June, the administration announced a new policy allowing undocumented residents under age 31 who were brought into the U.S. as children to stay and work, but the policy did not grant them residency or permanent legal status (Dorschner, Miami Herald, 8/31).
In an amendment to the regulation, the administration on Aug. 30 said undocumented residents would not be allowed to enroll in the health insurance exchanges under the ACA, qualify for coverage subsidies or enroll in the high-risk insurance pools.
The rule maintains current regulations requiring documented residents to wait at least five years before they can enroll in Medicaid and barring undocumented residents from seeking access to benefits under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (Winfield Cunningham, Washington Times, 9/9).
However, some immigration lawyers and health policy experts have condemned the new guidelines, saying they will make it increasingly difficult to achieve the goals of health reform.
Jennifer Ng'andu, a health policy specialist at the National Council of La Raza, said, "We do not understand why the administration decided to do this," adding that the policy is "shutting [young undocumented residents] out of the health care system so they cannot become productive members of society" (New York Times, 9/17).