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Campaign seeks to boost Latino coverage under Affordable Care Act

PHOENIX -- Millions of uninsured Latinos would benefit from the Affordable Care Act, but many incorrectly assume that coverage is too expensive or that enrolling would put relatives in the country illegally at risk for deportation, a White House official said Monday.

"Latinos are more likely to be uninsured but can also benefit most," Cecilia Muņoz, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council, said in a conference call with reporters.

Joined by community leaders in Arizona and other states, the White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched Latino Enrollment Week of Action. The effort will include public service advertisements aired by Spanish-language outlets.

The goal: getting more of the estimated 10.2 million uninsured Latinos to enroll by the March 31 deadline.

Muņoz said the campaign will address misperceptions about affordability. "Eight of every 10 Latinos will get health care breaks to make coverage more practical," she said.

State Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said too many erroneously believe that the information enrollees must provide about their households would identify to law enforcement those who are in the U.S. illegally. That's where he and other community leaders come in, he said.

"People know that they'll get their questions answered and stay safe when they come to me," Gallego said. "Above all, we want to emphasize that this is a doable solution and a safe solution that won't endanger mixed families."

Katherine Vargas, White House director of Hispanic media, said the outreach couldn't be done without help from Latino media outlets.

"They give us a voice that Latinos recognize and respect," she said. "We have been keen with making these relationships as meaningful as possible through public service announcements and other programming."

The campaign also will tap into social media prowess among Latinos, she said.

"We have a strong community network that spreads our information through social media," she said. "We know that Latinos are more likely to be users of social media, and we want to take advantage of that."

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