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Voto Latino Convenes Online Panel to Discuss Immigrant Families and the Affordable Care Act

Google Hangout featured Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and leaders from Health and Human Services, Hispanic Federation, and National Immigration Law Center.

Voto Latino convened a Google Hangout (online panel) yesterday to answer questions from its followers about “Immigrant Families and the Affordable Care Act.”


The panel featured U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46); Mayra Alvarez, Associate Director, Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Samantha Paz, Director of Health Advocacy, Hispanic Federation; and Alvaro Huerta, Staff Attorney, National Immigration Law Center; and was moderated by Yándary Zavala, who manages Voto Latino’s Health campaign and Hangout series.

Panelists answered question, including:

• I’m a DREAMer and have DACA Status. Can I apply for coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace?
• I’m an undocumented small business owner. Am I required to provide health coverage for my employees?
• Is a person eligible for health coverage under the ACA if he/she has submitted paperwork but has not yet received a green card?

Two of the biggest challenges in enrolling Latinos are unfamiliarity with the law and fear with regard to immigration enforcement. The 60-minute Hangout was an opportunity to get answers for some of the unique scenarios many Latinos are facing as they enroll.

Alvaro Huerta clarified that although those who are undocumented are not eligible for the Health Insurance Marketplace, but they can and should enroll their eligible family members, such as children or spouses. He added, “ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has made very clear that they are not interested in using the information gathered by the Marketplace when someone applies for coverage to enforce immigration laws, so they should have no fear when they are enrolling eligible family members.”

For mixed-status families, it’s easy to get confused when determining eligibility for coverage. Mayra Alvarez explained, “Those who qualify for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace are those who are either U.S. citizens or lawfully present immigrants, including asylees, refugees, and legal permanent residents. Immigrants with green cards also have access to tax credits, which will help families absorb the cost of enrolling in health insurance.”

Samantha Paz addressed undocumented small business owners, saying, “Whether a small business needs to offer health insurance to its employees doesn’t depend on the owner’s immigration status; it depends on the size of the small business. Any business with fewer than 50 employees doesn’t need to provide coverage, but there are tax incentives for those who choose to provide coverage for their employees.”

Congresswoman Sanchez stressed the goal of the law isn’t just to get people enrolled; it’s to improve the health of our communities, which is why benefits like preventive care are now covered. “Preventive care is free in each and every one of these plans. Why? Because we want you to go and get checked up. We want to make sure that everything’s OK with you. If something’s wrong, we want to fix it. And If we can fix you, then it’s a healthier America. Employees don’t miss work, kids don’t miss school, and we’re all better off for it,” she said.

Yándary Zavala encouraged Latino Millennials, “Taking care of our health is important, and it’s an investment in our future. Those of us who fall into the Millennial category, especially in Latino families, are often the ones making sure our family understands these laws and making sure our parents know how to hop on these websites. We, as young people, have a leadership role in making sure our families’ health is taken care of. I would encourage those of you who are watching to make sure your family and your friends and your loved ones are aware of these resources.”

The Hangout can be viewed at http://goo.gl/ZqRydS. To learn more about Voto Latino’s Health campaign, visit www.LatinosForHealthcare.com or www.VotoLatino.org.

About Voto Latino
Voto Latino is a nonpartisan organization that empowers Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino is dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices to develop leaders by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change. To learn more about Voto Latino, visit www.VotoLatino.org. Also engage Voto Latino on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VotoLatino, on Google Plus at www.plus.google.com/+votolatino, and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VotoLatino and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/VotoLatino.

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