Lost in the hubbub surrounding the malfunctioning HealthCare.gov is another missed deadline and closed door for millions of Americans seeking health insurance: CuidadoDeSalud.gov.
The Spanish-language site still does not allow consumers to enroll for exchange coverage, a delay that was previously estimated by administration officials to last until mid-October.
A spokeswoman from the Health and Human Services Department declined to comment on when consumers will be able to sign up for health insurance on CuidadoDeSalud.gov and whether the additional delay is related to the malfunctions on the English language site, HealthCare.gov.
Roughly 10.2 million Latinos in the United States do not have health insurance, according to HHS data.
But Spanish speakers — along with Americans frustrated by the HealthCare.gov experience — are being directed to a toll-free number, 800-318-2596, for help with the sign-up process, which President Obama says would involve a 25-minute call for individuals and 45 minutes for families.
“Additional features for online enrollment will be available as we make upgrades to the site,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in an email.
On CuidadoDeSalud.gov, consumers can search for specialists in their communities who can assist in completing paper applications. The site also contains educational information about the Affordable Care Act and advertises the call center, which has bilingual staff on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To date, the call center has fielded 41,000 Spanish-language calls, HHS said.
The continued holdup of CuidadoDeSalud.gov has staff at the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda pressing the White House to get a move on. The NHLA kicked off the National Hispanic Health Week of Action on Monday.
“This is a critical priority for the Latino community, that they have access to affordable health care,” NHLA Chairman Hector Sanchez said.
The NHLA is advising communities to apply by phone and paper, but said it will likely have another outreach campaign once the Spanish-language site begins accepting applications.
“The message here is that we have six months to get this done,” Sanchez said. “Even with these glitches, the process is easier than it was before.”
What We're Following See More »
Republican opposition to the GOP health care bill swelled to near-fatal numbers Sunday as Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the last-ditch effort to scrap the Obama health care law and Sen. Ted Cruz said that "right now" he doesn't back it. White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure's sponsors, said Republicans would press ahead with a vote this week." Collins said she doesn't support the bill's cuts to Medicaid, while Cruz said it wouldn't do enough to lower premiums.