Obama's final push to boost Latino enrollees

President Obama will participate in a town hall Thursday morning at the Newseum, in a bid to encourage Latinos to enroll in ObamaCare before the March 31 deadline.

The question-and-answer session will be hosted by the Asegúrate campaign, a collaboration between the nonprofit California Endowment, a private health endowment,  and major Spanish-language media outlets, including Univision and Telemundo.

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The White House sees the event as "an opportunity for Latinos across the country to learn more about how to enroll in affordable, quality health care via the Health Insurance Marketplace," according to Katherine Vargas, the director of Hispanic Media.

The administration is pushing to boost minority enrollment, particularly of Latino, in the federal exchanges. One in four people eligible to buy coverage under ObamaCare is Latino, according to the administration. Of the 10.2 million uninsured, they say, 8.1 million would qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or tax credits to purchase coverage.

This year, the administration has organized 15 enrollment summits targeting Latinos. An additional 22 are planned in the coming weeks targeting cities with high uninsured and Latino populations like Miami, New Orleans, Orlando and Cleveland. 

On Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama visited a community center in a heavily Latino and black Miami neighborhood to thank those assisting in enrolling uninsured Americans in ObamaCare. 

"In the African American community, unfortunately, one in five of us are not insured, and the numbers are no better in the Hispanic community," the first lady said. "And you all know what that means: It’s that people are going without treatment for diabetes, they aren’t getting the medicine they need, they aren’t getting regular checkups, they’re not getting proper guidance with regard to nutrition."

But Latino advocacy groups who had hoped to partner with the administration on the enrollment effort have voiced frustration with the botched rollout of the law.

The Spanish-language version of the website did not launch until December and grappled with technical problems and bad translations. Hispanic immigrants have also reported that the ObamaCare system has struggled in verifying immigration documents, and that on average, it takes Hispanics far longer to enroll — even with the help of a healthcare navigator.

Many legal Hispanic immigrants have also voiced concern that personal information they submit as part of the enrollment process could be used in immigration enforcement efforts, despite administration reassurances to the contrary.

Top administrative officials have been on a publicity blitz to promote the exchanges before the March 31 deadline. Last week, the president announced that 4 million Americans had enrolled in the program — 3 million less than originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office, and 2 million fewer than a revised estimate released after the early troubles with the website.

In recent weeks, the Obamas have sat for interviews with popular Hispanic radio hosts including Raul Brindis, Doctora Aliza, Doctora Isabel and Edgar “Shoboy” Sotelo, while Vice President Biden traveled to Atlanta to promote the Affordable Care act on Tuesday.

And during an event on the minimum wage Wednesday in Connecticut, Obama urged college students to enroll.

"If any of you know a young person who is uninsured, help them get covered at healthcare.gov," he said. "The website works just fine now. They’ve got until March 31st to sign up, and in some cases it’s going to cost less than your cellphone bill."