Congress members Say Covered California must reach more Latinos

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Sixteen members of California’s congressional delegation say they’re alarmed by how few Latinos are signing up for health coverage through the state-run insurance exchange.

Covering California series icon 2013In a letter to Covered California director Peter Lee on Friday, Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Anaheim) and fifteen of her Democratic colleagues said the agency must step up its efforts to enroll Latinos.
 

Spanish speakers make up close to one third of the state's population, but Covered California's most recent figures show that through November, fewer than 5 percent of those who'd signed up for coverage were primarily Spanish speakers. Those who self-identified as Latino accounted for less than 10 percent of all sign-ups.

In an effort to increase Latino enrollment, Covered California recently made its paper application available in Spanish and said it would increase spending on Spanish advertising. This week it unveiled a new Spanish-language TV ad.

But in her letter, Sanchez said, "there is more that can and must be done to increase enrollment, including resolving the shortage of bilingual enrollment counselors in key areas of the state and continuing to catch and fix translation problems on the website."

Covered California spokesman Dana Howard said work on both of those issues is already ongoing. 

"We do recognize that this is really important," said Howard, adding that the agency is working "actively" to increase outreach and enrollment. 

Howard said plans are also in the works to partner with community colleges and vocational schools with large Latino populations to encourage young Latinos to sign up.

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