Latinos Fall for Obama-Scare

By Miguel Perez

March 25, 2014 5 min read

To me, they are not a statistic. I don't have to read about them. I know them.

I don't need a study to show me that too many Latinos are foolishly rejecting Obamacare. The polls confirm that it's happening, but I see it every day.

Some say they'll get around to it later — totally unaware that open enrollment ends March 31. Some say they are overwhelmed by its complexity — although they have never bothered to look at how simple it can be. Some say they want nothing to do with socialism, even if it's just socialized medicine. Some blame the enrollment website, as if it were still broken.

But most are clearly affected by the negative publicity and scare tactics that have been used by opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

In the Latino community, unfortunately, Obamacare has become Obama-Scare. And it's working!

While the president's landmark health care law had enjoyed 2-1 support among Latinos in past surveys, a new Pew Research Center poll found Latinos now are evenly split — 47 percent to 47 percent — on whether they approve or disapprove of Obamacare. In contrast, the same poll found African-Americans support the law 77 percent to 18 percent.

It's incomprehensible. Like African-Americans, Hispanics form one of the communities that were expected to benefit most from Obamacare — where some 30 percent of the people are uninsured — and yet all over the country, a disproportionally low number of Latinos are enrolling in the program.

Recently, we've heard the president and his apologists claiming that the reason for the Latino enrollment deficiency is an alleged fear by many Latinos to reveal personal information to the government on health insurance applications, because some of their family members are undocumented.

Obama even went on a Spanish-language radio station recently to assure Latinos, "If you have a family where some people are citizens or legally here, and others are not documented, the immigration people will never get that information."

The president also participated in a live-streamed town hall meeting that was aired on Spanish TV networks and which is part of what the White House called a "robust" outreach effort to convince Latinos that they should take advantage of Obamacare. But it may be too little and way too late!

And they need to stop making excuses for their failures. Since the Spanish-language version of the Obamacare enrollment website was even less functional than the English version, the administration now is using its own deficiencies as an excuse for the low Latino enrollment in the program.

But it's all hogwash. Most Latinos are perfectly capable of enrolling in English, and most are not holding back because they have an undocumented relative. If that's actually happening, it's minimal.

What's actually happening is that Republicans have done a much better job of scaring Latinos about the pitfalls of Obamacare than Democrats have done to show Latinos how the law actually benefits them. What's happening is that even Latino Democrats — like many others in their party — are reneging on their support for Obamacare, even though they know how much their community needs it.

Just last month, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report indicating that a huge majority — 80 percent — of uninsured Latinos are actually eligible for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or qualify for lower monthly premiums under Obamacare.

Yet, instead of going out to educate their fellow Latinos about the benefits of universal health care in poor communities, instead of mounting an offensive for Obamacare, you see even Latino "leaders" taking defensive positions.

There are more than 10 million uninsured Latinos, and yet even Latino Democrats are seemingly afraid to confront the powerful conservative PACs bankrolling the politicians who oppose Obamacare and financing false horror stories on TV commercials. You don't see them denouncing the Republican governors who are blocking Obamacare from their constituents, especially in states like Florida and Texas, where so many Latinos are affected.

The poor may not have the money to build powerful PACs, but they should have the votes to elect politicians who cannot be intimidated by the rich and powerful.

If Obamacare fails in the Hispanic community, where it had all the odds to succeed, it will be because Democrats, especially our own Latino leaders, failed to lead. It will be because the alternative — Obama-Scare — was more effective.

To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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