California Healthline: Latino Issues at Exchange Prompt Bill Proposing Change in Board Composition

by David Gorn

A state Senate bill introduced yesterday would increase the number of Covered California health benefit exchange board members from five to seven and would increase the number of expertise categories for those board members.

SB 972 by Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) was prompted, in part, by low numbers of Latino enrollees in the exchange, and by exchange oversights that were contributing factors to those low numbers.

For instance, the exchange had no Spanish-language application form online until January, and there were less than 10% Spanish-speakers at the three state call centers.

Those kinds of mistakes could have a negative effect on Latino enrollment, according to Gilbert Ojeda, director of the California Program on Access to Care at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

“Several mistakes were made and the question is whether you can fix that kind of mistake at this point,” Ojeda said. “The concern is whether this is a missed opportunity or if it’s just a delay. It feels a lot like a missed opportunity.”

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