On March 23, one year will have passed since Congress passed and President Obama signed landmark healthcare reform legislation.
Even though the Affordable Care Act will provide access to millions of uninsured Americans, a majority of the public still isn’t buying it. According to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll conducted in February, 47% of respondents say they view the legislation unfavorably. And, if House Republicans have their way, most of the bill’s provisions won’t be implemented.
That’s bad news for African-Americans because they suffer disproportionately from such pre-existing conditions as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. In addition, they are less likely to have employer-sponsored coverage. The good news is that some provisions already are in effect. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and adult children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, which will greatly benefit Black young adults who may be struggling to find jobs during this period of high unemployment and others considering going back to school to gain credentials that will make them more attractive to employers.
So, why are Democrats still playing defense on this issue?
A report from the Greenlining Institute suggests that views about the health-care reform bill may be colored by race. “Whites who like Obama are more supportive of the health-care reform when compared to whites who do not like Obama. In contrast, for whites high in racial resentment, Obama is not a factor in their attitudes towards the health care reform law. Instead their attitude towards blacks as a group, specifically the belief that Blacks do not work hard, is related to their attitude towards the recently passed health-care reform law,” the report says. It also found that last summer, only 38.4% of whites supported the bill, compared to 78.6% of Blacks.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference last week that despite Republican efforts to eliminate or weaken the legislation, she feels “pretty confident” that it will stand.
"We just have to fight the fight and the American people will have to know what is at stake when you talk about diminishing the funding for the law's implementation," she said.
And there will be a fight, promises Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia). “We have said all along we want to repeal ObamaCare, we want to defund it, we want to delay it at all costs to preclude it from going into full effect,” he said last week.
(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)