October 28 2013

ObamaCare: If You Speak Spanish, You May Not Be Able to Enroll...

Patrice J. Lee

Healthcare.gov is getting the most attention but it’s not the only ObamaCare enrollment tool plagued with problems. Its Spanish version is in even worse shape and it’s irritating the largest target demographic for ObamaCare enrollment: Hispanics.

CuidadoDeSalud.gov was supposed to launch this month but although the website exists, you cannot enroll electronically. If you remember, one month ago the White House said the website would not be ready for rollout on October 1, but sometime in October. HHS head Kathleen Sebelius is now saying it will launch within the next two weeks, but I’m banking on an indefinite delay. If they can’t get the main site up and running, I doubt the Spanish-version website will suddenly become a greater priority.

The White House is trying to patch up this slight to the Hispanic community by claiming that Latino consumers prefer in-person assistance so the website delay is no big deal:

White House officials said in a statement to Fox News Latino that most Latinos would not be inconvenienced, because “our market research shows 70 percent will apply in English.”

The statement, which White House officials asked to be attributed only to an “administration official,” said that although Latinos cannot yet register online in Spanish because that function is not operating, they can read information on the site about the health care law, and where to go in their communities for help in filling out applications or getting answers to their questions.

Hispanic organizations are reading between the lines and they don’t like the message their getting from the White House:

“The ObamaCare rollout sends a clear message to Spanish speakers: If you speak Spanish, my administration didn't bother to create a functional website for you,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Izzy Santa. “The fact that the Spanish site isn’t ready for ‘primetime’ is just further proof this is an unworkable law and even Democrats are starting to agree that something needs to give.”

Some Latino organization representatives said they found the administration’s seemingly dismissive reaction to Latinos troubling and insulting.

“Hispanics are among the most social media-active communities in the United States,” said Emily Benavides, communications director for the Hispanic Leadership Network, a self-described center-right group that seeks to bolster Latino support for the Republican Party.”Having a website that functions for them to apply and register for coverage in their chosen language, be it English or Spanish, is important, and it needs to function properly.”

This comment from the Hispanic Leadership Network is striking. As we’ve reported, Hispanics represent a third of the estimated 47 million uninsured Americans. Minimizing the importance of this Spanish-version website may end up being a big missed opportunity for the Administration to win over a key constituency.

This is another stab for ObamaCare which looks increasingly like it will succumb to death by a thousand cuts. Those holding the knives aren’t its opponents but its supporters. Nothing has done more to discredit the President’s master plan for healthcare than the massive failure that has been the law itself and its rollout –from the failed Healthcare.gov website, to the rising insurance premiums to the hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their healthcare coverage each day.

Once again, this episode underscores the failure of central planning and the ineptitude of the even the smartest experts – which is questionable in this case - in trying to coordinate large-scale social experiments.

What makes the private market work is that it functions because of billions of uncoordinated interactions from individuals, companies and groups. When government steps in to replicate and manage a market, it injects distortions and triggers problems that might have not occurred or might have been solved more efficiently and effectively through private means.

If nothing else, a new generation of Americans will learn an important lesson: government is not the answer to our problems, we are. When government tries to be, it often makes a bigger mess and leaves us worse off than before.

 

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