What's The Matter With Ezra Klein?
Credit: Univision
January 13, 2014

What's up with Ezra Klein lately? For the most part, he writes good solid policy analysis, but his echo-chamber parrot job of an AP article about the Spanish version of Healthcare.gov is just lazy.

Klein picks up AP's wire story about translation issues with the site, including one Miami navigator's complaint that the site is written in "Spanglish."

Klein takes the complaints in the AP article one step further before having to walk back his central example:

The Web site, for instance, translates the word "premium" into "prima" -- a word more typically used in Spanish to denote a female cousin. Veronica Plaza, a professor who teaches medical Spanish at the University of New Mexico, told the AP that the site should've used "cuotas," ''couta mensual" or "costo annual." (Update: The Obama administration disputes that "prima" is the wrong word here. They note that Univision, for instance, uses "prima" in their documents.)

Both Klein and the AP take Healthcare.gov to task for operational bugs, which are valid criticisms just as they were with the English website. But the rest of the AP article and Klein's echo of it are pure nonsense. Translating legal terms into Spanish or any other language is, at best, going to be imprecise and subject to criticism over specific terms. That doesn't mean the site's creators failed, or that the website itself spells doom for enrollment of Hispanic participants.

In fact, I'd argue that the real barrier to higher Hispanic enrollment is the persecution of that community's family and friends by immigration officials. If you're constantly living in fear that someone you love may be deported, would you willingly give up your information to a government website?

Perhaps the answer to low Hispanic enrollments nationwide is comprehensive immigration reform, not a new translation of Healthcare.gov.

I'm disappointed in young Ezra. Rather than take a look at the claims in the AP article, he chose to echo them. He's usually better than that.

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