July 27, 2016
By Fre Imbert
When talking about Latino and Hispanic voters, the main issues that come to mind are the economy and, of course, immigration. But health care is another key matter for Latino voters that has not been in the spotlight as much.
According to a Pew Research poll conducted earlier this month, 82 percent of Latino voters said health care is a very important issue to their vote, behind only the economy and immigration.
"One of the things we have to think about is health care in this country is very expensive," Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University's Baker Institute. "Obamacare has provided a window of opportunity for Latinos to get health-care coverage," but Republican nominee Donald Trump has vowed to repeal it.
Nearly 13 million Latinos are registered to vote in the U.S., according to the Census.
"As the campaign moves forward and Republicans continue to reiterate [their stance] on Obamacare, Latinos are going to be more concerned about health care," Payan said.
More than a quarter of Latinos were uninsured at the end of 2014, well above the national rate of 13.4 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report.
But Latinos' concerns over health care reflect much more than just their worries surrounding access to medical benefits, said Angela Kelley, senior vice president at the Center for American Progress.
"I think that health care is a very fundamental way of capturing worries of a family's well-being, but at the same time it encapsulates their concerns of immigration and the economy," she said.
Kelley noted that many Latinos are worried about losing their jobs, which could lead to them losing access to affordable health care and even being deported.
More than one-third of Latinos in the U.S. know someone who has been deported or detained for immigration reasons, research from polling firm Latino Decisions showed.
"If you think about any Latino family … when that family falls victim to a raid, clearly that family takes a hit," Rice University's Payan said, noting that most Latino families are working class.
And the GOP's stance on immigration has done nothing to calm deportation worries. In fact, Trump has proposed mass deportations of illegal immigrants.
"It should not be a surprise that, when you're looking at the polls, Democrats are capturing most of the Latino vote," Payan said.