For weeks, the smiling face that adorned the homepage of Healthcare.gov belonged to a Colombian immigrant named Adriana. However, she told ABC News, the treatment she received was enough to wipe the smile off of anyone’s face.
Adriana claims that she was a target of “cyberbullying” and that her immigration status was wrongfully called into question. No wonder she asked the network not to use her last name.
Dubbed the “enigmatic Mona Lisa of health care,” her face was soon mocked, Photoshoped, altered. She became the subject of late-night jokes, partisan hatred and intense speculation.
The saga of the photo started innocuously enough. Seeking free family photographs, Adriana emailed a contact at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the Affordable Care Act’s rollout, about having photos of her and her family taken in exchange for allowing the photos to be used to market the new health care law. She was never paid.
She learned over the summer that her photo would be on healthcare.gov’s main page, but she didn’t realize it would become so closely associated with the problems of the glitchy website.
“I mean, I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo. I didn’t design the website. I didn’t make it fail, so I don’t think they should have any reasons to hate me,” Adriana told ABC News.
According to the news network, she lives in Maryland with her 21-month-old son and husband of six and a half years. Her husband is a U.S. citizen, as is his her son.
That depends on the messaging, which the president and Democrats have to get right, said a caller named Tracy.
“First and foremost, remind people it’s a website. The Affordable Care Act is not broken,” she said. “Every Democrat, whether local or or statewide, needs to write op-ed pieces, get on local television and remind people the health care law is not broken. They need to stop leaving the president out there as the only one who is truly speaking on its behalf, and they need to put a face to the people who are actually being helped by the law.”
Hopefully, those new faces won’t be subject to the same kind of treatment that Adriana has received.
Hear more of what callers told Roland Martin in the audio clip below.