October 21, 2014

The African-American Care Act: How the Supreme Court ruling affects the Black population.

Health for all

Americans have traditionally been conservative in their views. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a liberal outlook; it’s just that thinking twice and thinking hard comes naturally to them. Every decision is scrutinized minutely and dissected over brunches and dinners. So it can be said with absolute certainty that the latest Supreme Court ruling, upholding the Affordable Care Act, is the hottest item being served on dining tables all across the USA today. The narrow 5-4 victory has split opinion evenly with many debating the overall costs and the long term negative repercussions; while others contesting that it is indeed a giant leap forward to provide cheap health services.

So where does your average African American fit in all this?

What it entails

To understand, we must first grasp the nuances of this huge healthcare initiative, which will gradually take shape over the coming years. The biggest directive of the new law is the hotly contested requirement that almost all Americans should have health insurance. The thrust of the whole initiative is to provide health coverage to the more than 30 million uninsured Americans, more than a quarter of whom are black. The bill is designed to address the rising cost of healthcare through tax funded medical facilities.

Chief justice John Roberts allied with the four liberal justices in passing the resolution. The justices have voted against two of the three arguments in favor of the compulsory insurance requirement, but they agreed that the decision can be constituted as a tax. The court also had issues with the expansion of Medicaid that the law proposed, but again stated that the government could proceed with the changes, if it didn’t threaten to withhold a state’s Medicaid allotment in case they refused to implement the expansion. The whole verdict has come as a shot in the arm for the administration and is being touted as a major symbolic victory before the upcoming elections.

The republicans, all of whom voted against the bill in congress, are accusing the democratic government of using this as a base for increased taxation. This argument holds some truth as the mandatory nature of the law will hit the disposable income available to citizens, but this can largely be ignored in favor of the long term benefits that the law aims to provide.

Verdict

Recent studies have confirmed that the Affordable Care act can help in reducing the gap between uninsured whites and blacks to about half the current estimate. But the black families need to be informed and educated about the new changes to avail the benefits in their entirety. The act also promises to provide adequate resources for training more black doctors and nurses and this a positive step, as having someone from their own community in the healthcare sector can have added advantages for African Americans throughout the country. The most important change is of course the proposed increase in age of eligible children for medical benefits to 26, and blacks are going to benefit the most from it. However hard we may try to ignore it; the fact still remains that African Americans still face racism and prejudice when it comes to employment. They constitute the largest percentage of unemployed citizens in the above 20 age bracket.

Couple this with the recent downturn in economy and you can see the dilemma facing young black adults looking to get health benefits through their employers. The increase in age is definitely not the ultimate solution to the problem, but can help spread the costs over a longer period of time. Also, the increase in funding to community health centers is largely meant for the blacks and Latinos; as they constitute more than 50% of the patient inflow. The funding is aimed at overhauling the support structure around these centers and to better equip them with latest medicines and machines.

It is for everyone to see that African Americans are the single largest beneficiaries of the judgment. Even if this was meant as political gimmick to keep the black voter base intact; the core of this act is still true to its aim of providing affordable care to minorities. Regardless of the outcome in November, blacks throughout America can be assured of proper health facilities; a giant leap to provide universal care to everyone. No matter what the detractors say; the Affordable Care Act has its heart in the right place.