Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace closes January 31st. A number of Austin-area nonprofit groups are busy signing up as many people as possible before the deadline, especially people who are not native English speakers or who are low income.
The Center for Healthy Communities is one of those groups. Isabel Lopez spends her days crisscrossing Austin, dropping off information at elementary schools and doing Spanish-language presentations and TV interviews. Her goal is to reach an often under-served, and therefore often misinformed, community.
“Misconceptions are that everybody will be fined if they don’t have health insurance,” Lopez says. “The other thing is that it’s really expensive and I don’t think they understand how big the subsidy can be.”
She says there is also a lot of fear, especially from documented immigrants who may have family members who are undocumented.
“There is a lot of fear of deportation and because of the immigration status, but a lot of these families do qualify,” Lopez explains. “I think we need to do way more outreach to the hard to reach populations. Not only Spanish speaking, but we have a big population of Arab-speaking, Vietnamese, Burmese.”
To qualify for Obamacare you must be a U.S. citizen, or have legal status, such as legal residents or registered aliens.
In Washington this week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge from Texas, and 25 other states, to President Obama’s 2014 executive order on immigration. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, has been on hold for nearly a year after a Texas-based federal judge blocked the measure.
DAPA would allow more than four million undocumented immigrants to apply for a renewable work permit and avoid deportation. The case is expected to go before the court in April, with its decision issued in June. Our weekly Texas Political Roundup comes from Alana Rocha with our reporting partner The Texas Tribune.