Spanish Obamacare Website Will Accept Enrollments by End of the Month

CuidadoDeSalud.gov currently contains educational materials, but does not accept applications for coverage.

National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Nov. 7, 2013, 10:38 a.m.

The Span­ish-lan­guage fed­er­al health-in­sur­ance ex­change web­site will ac­cept ap­plic­a­tions for health in­sur­ance by the end of the month, ac­cord­ing to a spokes­per­son at the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices.

“Con­sumers who would like to en­roll in health in­sur­ance in Span­ish today are en­cour­aged to use the Span­ish-lan­guage en­roll­ment op­tions that are already avail­able at 1-800-318-2596, and through in-per­son as­sist­ance in com­munit­ies across the coun­try,” an­oth­er CMS spokes­per­son said in an email state­ment. CMS is the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices agency re­spons­ible for the im­ple­ment­a­tion of the fed­er­al Obama­care ex­change.

Span­ish speak­ers can vis­it Cuid­adoDe­Sa­lud.gov — the Span­ish ver­sion of Health­Care.gov — to view edu­ca­tion­al in­form­a­tion about the Af­ford­able Care Act and search for loc­al, in-per­son as­sisters.

Con­sumers seek­ing to ap­ply in Span­ish, however, can­not be­gin the on­line ap­plic­a­tion pro­cess for cov­er­age, des­pite the fact that Cuid­adoDe­Sa­lud.gov‘s en­roll­ment fea­ture has been ready at least since Sept. 10, when CGI Fed­er­al af­firmed to Con­gress that it was ready.

Cheryl Camp­bell, CGI Fed­er­al’s seni­or vice pres­id­ent, test­i­fied again on Oct. 24 that the only reas­on Cuid­adoDe­Sa­lud.gov was not ac­cept­ing ap­plic­a­tions was be­cause CMS dir­ec­ted them not to make the fea­ture avail­able.

“In your pre­vi­ous testi­mony I asked you — I asked you if Span­ish was go­ing to be part of the rol­lout of im­ple­ment­a­tion,” said Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, R-La. “I asked if it’s ready and would it be a seam­less ex­per­i­ence for a primary Span­ish-speak­er. You said for the on­line ap­plic­a­tion, yes. There’s re­ports today that the Span­ish-lan­guage web­sites are not up, and it’s un­clear as to when they will come up. Is that be­cause the web­sites are not ready or be­cause the ad­min­is­tra­tion has chosen not to take them on­line?”

“CMS dir­ects which com­pon­ents go live and when,” Camp­bell replied.

“So is the Span­ish-lan­guage web­site ready?” Cas­sidy asked. “And if it were up, would it be func­tion­al?”

“It would be,” Camp­bell said.

On a press call in late Septem­ber, Gary Co­hen, dir­ect­or of the HHS in­sur­ance over­sight of­fice, said the Span­ish-lan­guage web­site’s en­roll­ment fea­ture would be delayed un­til mid-Oc­to­ber.

CMS did not of­fer com­ment about why it op­ted to fur­ther delay the en­roll­ment fea­ture of the site.

The agency did, however, say that its mar­ket re­search shows 70 per­cent of Lati­nos will ap­ply in Eng­lish. Already the call cen­ters have fielded more than 65,000 Span­ish-lan­guage re­quests.

Roughly 10.2 mil­lion His­pan­ics in the United States do not have health in­sur­ance, ac­cord­ing to HHS data.

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