Under Trump administration, feds' ACA outreach partnership with Latino groups ends

Pictured is the Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov, Cuidadodesalud.gov. Latino outreach groups say they haven't heard from HHS about open enrollment coordination efforts this year, a stark contrast from years past.

While the Obama administration worked heavily with the Latino community on Affordable Care Act outreach, advocacy groups say they’ve heard nothing but radio silence from the Trump administration. 

Members of the Latino Affordable Care Act Coalition—a collection of national and local organizations that had worked with federal officials since 2013 to help Latinos sign up for health insurance—told Talking Points Memo that they haven’t been contacted at all by the Department of Health and Human Services this year.

The Latino community had been a key outreach target since the inception of the ACA exchanges, as a large share of this population has historically lacked insurance. Thus, HHS under the Obama administration forged partnerships with grassroots groups and took great pains to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach campaigns, Steven Lopez, the associate director of health policy at Unidos, told TPM.

And those efforts paid off, as the Latino uninsured rate has dropped faster than that of any other ethnic group, the article noted.

Now though, with the next open enrollment period set to start Nov. 1, the lack of communication from HHS has led many of those organizations to indicate they don’t believe the partnerships will continue.

Latino advocacy groups said that they can’t do as much outreach as they could have with the full support of the federal government. Plus, with uncertainty over what will happen to the ACA, they have to work that much harder to educate people and encourage enrollment.

To former Labor Secretary and current Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, the Trump administration’s actions constitute a form of sabotaging the ACA. “That’s unconscionable,” he told TPM.

HHS did not respond to the publication’s request for comment on the issue.

The lack of coordination with Latino groups is not the only way that HHS under President Donald Trump has pulled back from efforts to promote the ACA. It recently ended contracts with two companies that helped coordinate open enrollment assistance in 18 cities, and during the final days of the previous open enrollment period, it shut down an advertising campaign encouraging consumers to sign up for ACA exchange plans.

HHS has also spent taxpayer money meant to help advertise the ACA to instead produce video testimonials that criticize the law.