Last week, Wal-Mart, the country’s largest private employer of Blacks, announced it will be cutting health insurance for about 30,000 part-time employees and increasing premiums for other employees. In Arkansas, Blue Cross Blue Shield will be dropping about 4,000 Medicare customers due to “government regulations.”
This is the exact opposite of what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) promised.
Blacks are 55 percent more likely to be without health insurance than Whites. The ACA was sold as the solution to our crippling healthcare system. The ACA was supposed to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance, and reduce the growing healthcare spending in the U.S.
In 2007, President Bush announced in his State of the Union address a comprehensive health reform plan. His plan would have replaced tax exclusions for employer-provided coverage with standard deductions for all individuals and families. More importantly, his plan would have covered 65% of the uninsured while the ACA is expected to cover only 45% of the uninsured in 2016 when it is fully implemented. Every four years, it takes Americans at least 51% to choose our Commander-in-Chief. 45% is unacceptable, especially with the $1.4 trillion dollar price tag and people’s health at stake.
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to convince Americans that Conservatives are trying to “force millions of American families to once again rely on expensive emergency room care– or go without care.” Other Democrats have spouted off that the Conservative plans are just political moves. The truth is Democrats have been unwilling to implement Conservative healthcare reform proposals since President Nixon’s national health insurance plan in 1974. This is not about political moves; this is and has always been about decreasing the number of uninsured Americans.
In the first year of the ACA’s implementation, we have seen the number of insurers offering coverage on the individual markets in all states decline by 29 percent, while seeing the number of Americans dropped from their insurance increased. In over a dozen states, fifty-year-olds have seen their premiums increase more than 50 percent, while twenty-seven-year olds have experienced their premiums doubling.
Why it is that 41 million Americans are still uninsured and opted to pay the penalty instead of sign-up for the Affordable Care Act? Where are the options that will drastically decrease the number of uninsured Americans? Where is affordable health care?
Poor or wealthy, we all are affected by Americans without health insurance.
Besides President Bush’s plan, several conservatives presented healthcare bills in 2007, such as the Ten Steps, Transform Health Care in America Act, Every American Insured Health Act, and the Healthy Americans Act. These bills proposed keeping young adults under the age of 26 on their parents’ healthcare plan and reducing the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Not to mention, these proposals had Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.
Last November, Bowie State University, one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities in America, announced they were cancelling a school-wide health care plan for students. Their reason—the ACA. In order to comply with the ACA’s regulations, the price per student each semester would jump from $50 to $900. You read right. And, that would mean $1800 per student each year. Where is the support President Obama and the White House promised HBCUs? Why are our students lacking the healthcare they need and deserve?
President Obama also said, “What happens is, you don’t have health insurance, you go to the emergency room.” He touted the ACA as a way to decrease emergency room visits, and in turn provide cost savings. Instead, according to USA Today, hospitals across the nation are experiencing an increase in Medicaid patients using emergency rooms. Sadly, increased use of ERs could prevent timely care to the people who need it most due to longer wait times and processing.
Conservatives have presented alternatives such as opening borders to increase competition and allow markets to push down prices, health savings accounts, and improving the affordability of insurance for low-income individuals. These are viable options that should be discussed in Congress and in our communities.
I know, not a single Republican voted for the final Affordable Care Act. And, the negative affects on Americans, especially Black Americans confirm their initial opposition.
We don’t send our children to college or go to work everyday to be dropped from our health insurance plan because of a 10,345-page bill that continues to confuse Americans and those who voted for it. We have given the Affordable Care Act a chance, and now we have to think about our health- present and future.