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America’s race sickness afflicts public health

Melvin B. Miller
America’s race sickness afflicts public health
“I know you’re not feeling good, but we’re not going to stoop to taking Obama Care!” (Photo: Dan Drew)

Unlike citizens of other industrialized countries, many Americans oppose government financed health care. President Barack Obama confronted massive opposition in his effort to gain popular support for passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was dismissively referred to as “Obamacare.” Criticism has not completely abated even now with substantial evidence that the law is working.

Before passage of the ACA, opponents insisted that the law would fail because Americans would resist buying health insurance. Opponents seemed to delight in the early problems when the computer system failed and enrollment fell behind schedule. But now about 3.8 million uninsured Americans have enrolled. According to a federal report, the number of uninsured Americans has already dropped by about 8 percent as of the first quarter of 2014. The ACA program is on schedule.

Obama is indeed concerned that all Americans can have access to quality health care, but he is also aware that the nation’s escalating medical expenses had to be curtailed. A persistent argument of the conservatives who opposed the ACA is that spiraling health costs would bankrupt the nation. However, Obama established administrative systems to get health costs under tighter control.

According to an Aug. 27 report from the Congressional Budget Office, projections for Medicare costs have substantially declined. The budget estimate for 2019 is $95 billion less than it was four years ago. According to The New York Times, that amount is greater than the anticipated total combined expenditures in 2019 for welfare, unemployment insurance and Amtrak.

Of course it is too early to assert that the economies in the cost of health care are the result of the ACA. However, it does appear that Americans are enrolling for health care insurance as anticipated and that tighter administration of the nation’s health care system will ultimately contain the costs. Why then is there still such objection to Obamacare, especially from those who will benefit the most from the program?

An important aspect of the ACA was to expand Medicaid eligibility to families earning as much as 138 percent of the appropriate federal poverty level. But this was not a federal requirement. Individual states had to agree to the Medicaid expansion, but the federal government would pay the costs for two years. While this seems like an easy win-win decision, 22 states have refused to accept the offer.

It should come as no surprise that most states of the Old Confederacy have refused the federal government’s generous offer. A good number of their citizens would then qualify for Medicaid and many of them are black. In addition, their refusal provides another opportunity to oppose the black president in Washington.

The response to the ACA in Kentucky demonstrates the racial tension. Kentucky has successfully embraced the ACA through a state agency called kynect. However, many citizens do not realize that they are still benefiting from Obamacare. Polls indicate a massive opposition in Kentucky to Obama and his plan for health insurance, but great support for kynect.

It appears that bigots are willing to deny health care to their families as an expression of racial hostility. Now that is sick, and very serious.

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