When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act in April 2021, he included incentives for states to expand Medicaid. This comes at a critical moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, as we look toward health and economic recovery and the future of our country.
During the pandemic, the uninsured rate for Latinos increased, but even prior to the pandemic, Texas and Florida alone were already home to more than a third of all uninsured Latino parents and nearly half of all uninsured Latino children, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and UnidosUS. Every day, our Affiliates across the country help to connect and enroll eligible members of our community in Medicaid.
By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
I spoke with Isac Ponce, Marketing Specialist at Project Vida Health Center to learn more about Project Vida’s work enrolling eligible members of the community in Medicaid so that they can access affordable coverage and care.
Q: What does Project Vida do to make the community aware of Medicaid enrollment?
A: We are always actively looking for ways to use our current programs and teams to promote Medicaid. We have a partnership with the Texas Tech Midwives program to enroll eligible women to Medicaid. The midwives provide services at our Naftzger clinic and if eligible, clients are referred to one of our navigators to get them registered. PVHC’s navigators promote Medicaid with all clients seeking to register to our clinics. Social Media has also been a great tool we use to raise awareness about Medicaid.
We have also distributed flyers to teachers of Canutillo, Clint, El Paso, and Socorro Independent school districts through welcome bags. Flyers have also been distributed at our COVID testing site and in other community events.
Q: What is the biggest challenge that Project Vida has experienced doing Medicaid enrollment work?
A: We have faced many challenges during our enrollment efforts. One of the biggest ones is the restrictions in response to COVID-19. All in person appointments have been canceled. Many of our Latino population have low access to technology and have low computer literacy rates. Also, a large number of Latino clients are undocumented immigrants which makes them ineligible for Medicaid, and they usually don’t request assistance from the government because of fear that their immigration status would be shared to the authorities.
Q: What has been the biggest success?
A: We have been approved to have different ways to help the community access Medicaid. Our Navigators are trained to assist clients through Zoom, and we have been approved to have a laptop station where clients can come in and apply in person. Also having strong, developed internal partnerships between our programs that allow us to have a larger reach is a huge success. For example, we are able to promote Medicaid at our COVID-19 testing sites and through our partnership with Texas Tech Midwives Program.
Q: Why is it important for eligible members of the community to get enrolled?
A: It’s important for the community of El Paso to get enrolled because our Latino community has known disparities of access to health care and insurance enrollments. Texas remains the state with the highest uninsured rate overall and the highest uninsured rate for children.
Medicaid provides low-cost or free health insurance that covers doctor visits, immunizations, and more. For more information about Texas’ Medicaid program and how to enroll, visit: www.yourtexasbenefits.com.