By Vivian Leal
The U.S. Latino population continues to have the lowest insured rate of any ethnic group in the country. This in spite of significant progress, especially here in Nevada, since the beginning of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) in March 2010. Obviously, the Democratic victories in the recent House of Representative elections and the dismissal of Dean Heller as Nevada’s senator proved that the American people support these protections and reject discrimination against people with chronic health-care conditions.
However, in the face of this decisive defeat, the Trump administration is resorting to not-so-subtle sabotage of the ACA across all platforms at its disposal. Through legislation, judicial nominations, executive orders and, frankly, nefarious misdeeds, they are attempting to dismember the ACA. These actions are in fact merely additions to the long list of this administration´s slights against the Latino community in the U.S., even against the millions who are citizens or legal residents.
This week we document one more. Unfortunately, the Senate has just confirmed Chad Readler to the Sixth District Court of Appeals. Interestingly, Readler was nominated for this post the day immediately after he submitted the government’s legal brief in Texas v. U.S., in an attempt to invalidate the ACA protections. This is the same Readler who through his position at the Justice Department directed the legal effort to end DACA, and the identical Readler who supported the inclusion of a citizenship question in the upcoming 2020 Census and family separation at the border. Now that he is on the court, who has hope that his decisions will be fair for everyone?
Readler´s confirmation occurs just months after a targeted maneuver against the Spanish-speaking population and its health-care coverage. In September 2018, a document titled, “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities” suddenly disappeared from the Healthcare Marketplace pages where consumers learn about their options and evaluate which policies are best for their families. This resource document was intended to educate program navigators on outreach strategies for the Latino population considering the particular challenges we face. At the time it was removed, given the quickly approaching enrollment deadline, Sen. Cortez Masto sent a letter to Seema Varma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, demanding an explanation.
The president’s public comments and his insistence on the “emergency” at the southern border demonstrate his hostility against the Latino community. But it is also important to document in real time additional pieces in this jigsaw of injuries that threaten not only our right to remain here as citizens and residents, but also our physical wellbeing and possibilities for progress towards the very opportunities that make this, our country, unique in the world.
Vivian Leal is a writer, editor and activist. The daughter and wife of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After many years in California where she was the Director of Programming for Kepler’s Books, she and her husband decided to move their family to Reno. Following the 2016 elections Vivian committed to giving voice to humanitarian principles and to work to hear and see them reflected in Nevada law and dialogue.