Commentary – ObamaCare improves health of Black America

Commentary – ObamaCare improves health of Black America
November 19
00:00 2015

Benjamin Chavis

Guest Colunmist

Black Americans continue to face serious disparities in education, employment, and in economic development. While over 45 million black Americans have made some type of progress during the past seven years of the Obama Administration, there is still much more to be done to end the vast racial and socioeconomic differences between blacks and whites in the United States.

One challenge, however, where there has been significant improvement is the issue of healthcare insurance coverage for Black Americans as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). More popularly known as ObamaCare, this federal legislative achievement by President Barack H. Obama did not happen without conservative opposition and controversy. But the growing health benefits to all Americans because of ObamaCare, and in particular for Black Americans, is undeniable.

During President Obama’s recent weekly address to the nation, he detailed the quantitative progress and qualitative impact of the Affordable Care Act. President Obama stated, “For decades, too many working Americans went without the security of health insurance — and their financial well-being suffered because of it. We’ve begun to change that. As the Affordable Care Act has taken effect, we’ve covered 17.6 million Americans. Since 2010, the uninsured rate has decreased by 45 percent. And for the first time, more than 90 percent of Americans are covered.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted the following list of achievements of the ACA with specific reference to black America:

*Last year, an estimated 6 in 10 uninsured African-Americans qualified for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), or lower costs on monthly premiums through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

*Many shoppers found coverage for less than $50 a month and nearly 7 in 10 found coverage for less than $100.

*7.8 million African- Americans with private insurance now have access to preventive services like mammograms or flu shots with no co-pay or deductible

*More than 500,000 African-American young adults between the ages of 19 and 26 who would have been uninsured now have coverage under their parents’ plans.

*If all states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of eligible uninsured African-Americans might qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or programs to help lower the cost of health insurance coverage in the Marketplace. [North Carolina has not expanded Medicaid.]

Not having health insurance will not only cause you to suffer financial harm, but also the status of your health will be put in increased jeopardy and difficulty.

My sister, Dr. L. Francine Chavis of the Granville Health System in our hometown of Oxford, North Carolina, stated, “Because of the ACA, I now see many more African- American patients at a point where medical care can help them immeasurably. Having health insurance coverage, many for the first time, is an important factor.”

We, therefore, will have to make sure that our elected officials in Congress are adequately informed about the critical positive difference that ObamaCare has made and is making to sustain and improve the health of black America. We should oppose all those who want now to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

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