The uninsured rate among Hispanic Americans dropped significantly between 2013 and 2014, according to data on the Affordable Care Act released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control.
Compared with 2013 numbers, the percentage of adults between the ages of 18-64 who were uninsured in 2014 dropped by around seven percent for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic black Americans. The rate of uninsured non-Hispanic white and Asian Americans dropped around three percent and four percent, respectively.
But more than just growing the number of Hispanic Americans with insurance, the new healthcare law increased the percentage who were able to go to the same place for medical visits—and the emergency room didn't count as a reliable place to find care—and decreased the number of people who said they had to skip necessary procedures and other care because they couldn't afford to pay.
The CDC called the numbers on Hispanic adults "significant," but the report notes that there's still a considerable gap in access that needs to be addressed:
In 2014, Hispanic adults aged 18–64 were still more likely than non-Hispanic adults to have difficulty accessing and using health care, based on the measures used in this study. Poorer health care access and utilization can lead to poorer health outcomes and higher disease prevalence, which have sometimes been observed for Hispanic adults relative to non-Hispanic white adults.
The issue is also a major focus among Hispanic voters, according to a poll released last summer by the Pew Research Center: Healthcare ranked in voters' top three priorities, just after education and concerns about jobs and the economy.
So healthcare is important to voters, and the ACA is expanding access, though at times unevenly, to more Americans, particularly Hispanic Americans. And while other Pew polling data reveals that support for the ACA has dipped among Hispanic voters—from 61 percent in 2013 to 48 percent in 2014—they still favor the law at a higher percentage than the overall public (41 percent).
Taken together, this could make a repeal of Obamacare—something that virtually every Republican presidential candidate from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz has said he or she wants to do—a tough sell in 2016. Particularly as Republicans try to broaden their appeal beyond white voters and as young voters and voters of color become more and more essential to winning elections.
And telling someone that you are going to take away their healthcare (or prevent them from getting it in the first place) is a weird way to ask them to vote for you. (I write this as a person who neurotically saw not one but two doctors in the last seven days for what turned out to be very bad allergies.)
And we're still more than a year out from the election. If the uninsured rate continues to drop, and more people are accessing care through a law that the Republican bench has made its primary target, the focus on repeal could push the GOP even further behind with Hispanic voters.