Washington (CNN) – As the Obama administration continues to fix a problematic enrollment process, it appears it might end up delaying the launch of the Spanish-language online enrollment component on CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish version of the English website Healthcare.gov.
In September, officials told CNN the Spanish-language tool would launch the week of October 21. That would be part of a week of action highlighting the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. Now, when asked whether that launch was still on schedule, Health and Human Services and White House officials declined to provide a specific launch date. Still, officials emphasized that even without the online tool there are numerous ways for Spanish-speaking consumers to purchase health insurance, including a Spanish-language hotline and in-person assisters.
"Consumers who would like to enroll in health insurance in Spanish today are encouraged to use the Spanish-language enrollment options that are already available at 1-800-318-2596, and through in-person assistance in communities across the country," HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said. "Additional features for online enrollment will be available as we make upgrades to the site."
Some of those tools are already available on CuidadoDeSalud.gov, including offering a live web-chat function in Spanish. Officials also point out that there are Spanish speakers available for those who call in, that a paper application is available in Spanish, and that many organizations in the Hispanic community are offering face-to-face help with the application process. The administration has said that it expects about 70% of Latinos to apply in English and that Latino consumers prefer personalized assistance.
A White House official confirmed that the week of action will continue as planned.
"We will continue with our Hispanic National Week of Action on healthcare on October 21, to raise awareness with Latino consumers about the health care law, its benefits and how they can sign up for affordable options," the official said. "Across the country, community organizations, local, state and federal government partners will be convening events and partnering with Spanish-language media to highlight the importance of the Affordable Care Act to the Latino community."
Meanwhile, A HHS official confirmed to CNN the enrollment part of the Healthcare.gov website would be coming down this weekend for maintenance but downplayed the significance, saying the agency has brought it down weeknights and weekends between 1-5am since enrollment began Oct. 1st.
"We will, and have been since the first week, take the application part of the site down overnight from about 1–5am on a regular basis to conduct maintenance," said the official.