What Obama’s Health Care Means For African Americans

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health care african americanCivil rights leaders and lawmakers on Thursday applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law, which upheld the centerpiece of the measure that requires all people to have health insurance.

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Here, NewsOne speaks to U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) about the ruling and explains what this ruling means for African Americans.

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Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in the 5-4 ruling, which said that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to require people to have health care, but that other parts of the Constitution did.

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According to CNN, the importance of their decision cannot be overstated:

It will have an immediate and long-term impact on all Americans, both in how they get medicine and health care, and also in vast, yet-unknown areas of commerce.

“This is manna from heaven,” U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) told NewsOne shortly after President Obama’s noontime news conference about the ruling. “I couldn’t be more delighted because this is going to make sure that 32-million people who did not have access to health insurance will now have it. While I’m in favor of a national health plan, this is a little short of that. It will go a long way toward improving the quality of life for million so of Americans. ”

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Read the court ruling here (.PDF)

While the health care law will benefit all Americans, it will be especially helpful for African Americans who suffered the most under the nation’s ruptured health care system.

Here are eight ways the health care law will help African Americans:

  1. It will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions under all new plans.
  2. It will prohibit insurance companies from dropping sick patients from their rolls.
  3. It will give tax credits to small businesses for health insurance and allow small businesses to shop for plans that fit their needs.
  4. It will prohibit insurance companies from placing annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
  5. It will require insurance plans to cover screenings and vaccines without any deductibles or co-pays under any new insurance plans.
  6. It will allow a child to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until the age of 26.
  7. It will require insurance plans to cover prescription drugs for seniors or close the so-called donut hole, meaning that the elderly will no longer have to cover the cost for prescription drugs when their benefits run out.
  8. It will expand funding for community health centers.

“I’ve been working on health care reform since the 1970s and this is a hallmark piece of legislation for African Americans and all Americans,” Davis said. “The one thing that we may see a reduction for is in Medicaid. There’s just less money there than we had hoped for, but overall we are pleased with the ruling.”

In a prepared statement, NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock called the ruling “crucial”:

The Supreme Court made a crucial decision today to uphold the core provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” Brock stated in the release. The NAACP has long supported the full and complete implementation of this law. Access to quality, affordable health care is a civil and human right that should not be reserved for the wealthy or the few. The 32-million American men, women, and children covered under this law can now breathe easier.”

In a prepared statement, U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) called the decision a victory for America:

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Rangel said, we accomplished something that couldn’t be achieved since 1912. I will continue to work with my Democratic Colleagues to defend President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation and fight against Republican attempts to dismantle it.  In the meantime, it’s time to focus on spurring economic growth and getting Americans back to work.

The Supreme Court ruling allows lawmakers to put politics aside and to put health care on the front burner, where it should have been all along, Davis said.
“I’m so excited about moving forward because there was so much speculation about what the Supreme Court was going to do,” he said. “Now, we can say this is truly a Supreme Court that we can be proud of.”

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