Latino Health Access and Presidential Politics

Today, I had the opportunity to participate in a “blogger conference” hosted by the National Council for La Raza (NCLR). As we reported last week, this organization is using new media to reach out to the Latino community, the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. The conference call was about health disparities among Latinos and what the two presidential candidates are proposing to close the health access gap.

“Quality health care has always been in the hearts and minds of Latinos,” said Jen Ng’andu, associate director for the NCLR’s Health Access Project. “One in three Latinos don’t have health insurance for preventive care.”

Ng’andu said that NCLR works with hundreds of organizations and coalitions on addressing health access in the Latino community. NCLR also works with Health Care for America Now (HCAN), a national grassroots campaign working to guarantee quality health care for all Americans.

Latinos faces specific problems when accessing health care, including cultural insensitivity and language barriers. It is not uncommon to see children translating for adult family members who only speak Spanish in the hospital. Also, despite high employment rates among Latinos, they also have the lowest rates of health insurance supported by employers.

“One important issue for Latinos is access, so it’s important to look at this issue.” said Esther Garcia of HCAN. “Our organization wants to make sure all Latinos are insured.”

Representatives from both campaigns were invited to participate in the conference; however, a McCain rep didn’t participate due to “work in the field,” and will answer questions from bloggers later.

Dr Dora Hughes, Obama’s senior health policy advisor, was on the call and said that her candidate is strongly dedicated to this issue.

“Sen. Obama is the only candidate who believes that health care is a fundamental right,” she said.

Many of her talking points can be seen on Obama’s website:

Make Health Insurance Work for People and Businesses - Not Just Insurance and Drug Companies.

Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.

Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.

Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.

Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.

Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees health care.

Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.

Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.

Reduce Costs and Save a Typical American Family up to $2,500 as reforms phase in:

Lower drug costs by allowing the importation of safe medicines from other developed countries, increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs and taking on drug companies that block cheaper generic medicines from the market

Require hospitals to collect and report health care cost and quality data
Reduce the costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees.

Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care.

The Obama-Biden plan will promote public health. It will require coverage of preventive services, including cancer screenings, and increase state and local preparedness for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility: Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.

Regarding Latino health access, Hughes said an Obama administration would require quality health access measurements and provide support to community organizations addressing health disparities. She also said that cultural competency and workforce diversity needs to be strengthened.

Hughes also said that Obama, as well as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders introduced legislation in August to expand a successful and cost-effective community health center program, Access for All America Act.

Obama has promised that during his first year in office, he would sign legislation that would provide health care for all.

To be fair, John McCain’s health care proposal can be found here, and hopefully his rep can get back to the bloggers on his talking points.

To be continued….

P.S. – While looking at the McCain website, I was surprised to find a whole issues page on “Technology.” Considering that he once said that he doesn’t even know how to open email, I am happy someone in his organization finally told him to “smarten up” on his new media. We will take a more in depth look at his digital platform and write about it at a later date.

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At Friday, October 17, 2008 3:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 3:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Latino health care is a major issue. The numbers of those who lack health insurance are crazy. I think that this issue should have an impact on the Latino vote for president.

While we're waiting to vote, check out what one influential woman is doing to raise awareness about healthcare.

Talk show host, Cristina Saralegui has paired up with AARP to to help spread the word about their great benefits!
Check out http://www.upclosewithcristina.com/video to learn more and make a customizable video! You can have fun with your friends and
make them on online TV star with Cristina's video, "Amigos Live!" It's a blast!

Also, you can enter to win an all inclusive trip for 2 to Miami to to see the Cristina Saralegui show!
Definitely check out AARP for yourself or for a relative or client. They've got some great benefits, including (but not limited to): Exclusive travel discounts, prescription discounts, retirement planning and free companion membership!

I hope it's alright that I commented on your blog -- wanted to let them know about the fun video with Cristina and AARP's great benefits. If you have any further questions,
please don't hesitate to email me.

Isabella Coldivar
AARP Ambassador


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