The Supreme Court’s decision upholding President Barack Obama’s healthcare law (#Obamacare) is a victory for those who aggressively seek to reduce healthcare disparities primarily affecting Blacks and Latinos. By requiring health insurance for everyone, the law guarantees improvements in health coverage for people from these racial and ethnic groups, who disproportionately suffer from diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Consider these statistics:
- Blacks, Latinos and other non-whites comprise 50 percent of the uninsured people in the United States today
- Nearly one-third of Latinos (30.7) now are uninsured, according to the 2010 U.S. census, compared with 20.8 percent of Blacks, 18.1 percent of Asians and 11.7 percent of whites
- The law is expected to improve healthcare for 47 million Latinos and 41 million Blacks
- A study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies quantified the direct medical costs associated with health inequities: nearly $300 billion between 2003 and 2006
What’s the Public’s Reaction?
Here are some comments about the far-reaching impact of the court’s decision for healthcare reform on existing racial and economic inequities in healthcare:
National Council of La Raza: “The health-reform law that the president and Congress put in place two years ago is already changing lives,” says Janet Murguía, NCLR president and CEO. “Now that the law has been upheld, millions more Latinos will no longer have to worry about how to pay for essential healthcare for their children—our nation’s future workers, taxpayers, and leaders.” NCLR will produce analyses and events explaining the specifics of the laws. Follow the conversation on Twitter using hashtags #HCRDecision and #HealthJustice.
Huffington Post: The College of New Jersey English professor Cassandra Jackson says, “The fight for affordable healthcare is a fight for racial equality … Historically, access to healthcare has been so deeply shaped by institutionalized and practiced racism that federal healthcare law is the only means of systematically rectifying disparities.”
Health Affairs: This study, “The Affordable Care Act’s Coverage Expansions Will Reduce Differences In Uninsurance Rates By Race And Ethnicity,” uses a microsimulation model to show how racial and economic differences in healthcare could be reduced. This would lower the racial differential between Blacks and whites by at least half and the Latino-white differential by almost 25 percent.
L.A. Times: The new legislation provides provisions for helping states cover all Americans who make less than $15,800. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this is now the single largest expense in the law.
CNN Money: How will healthcare reform affect you and your coverage? CNN summarizes the notable changes you need to know.
Trouble viewing the video? Click here to watch at the CNN Money website.
Setting an Example for Diversity & Inclusion
Several DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity are in the healthcare field. These companies all are working to reduce healthcare inequities in their footprints. Here’s what they have to say:
Kaiser Permanente (No. 3 in the 2012 DiversityInc Top 50): “With the health and well-being of our members in mind, we plan to continue our extensive efforts to implement health care reform, which began two years ago when the law first became effective … We’ll continue to be guided by our goals of providing high-quality care, great service, and affordability to our members and the communities we serve.”
Health Care Service Corporation (No. 19): “As a result of the Court’s ruling, Health Care Service Corporation will continue to implement the law and help our members understand their coverage and benefits. We remain committed to providing exceptional customer service and health care coverage.”
Aetna (No. 24): “Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change our business strategy or commitment to system reforms that make quality care more affordable and accessible. We are prepared for the changes ahead and will continue to fully comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, we know that much more must be done to fix the problems that remain in our health care system. We believe there is still time — if people can come together in a bipartisan way — to improve quality and affordability. That security is what Americans want and need.”
Eli Lilly and Company (No. 29): “Even with today’s decision, we expect that the debate about health care and health coverage will continue, and that further reforms and changes are likely in the years ahead. As we have in the past, Lilly will continue to engage actively in this process. In doing so, we will be guided by a core set of principles. We will advocate for health care reforms that enhance patient access to good health care and medicines; provide consumer choice through market-based competition; promote prevention and evidence-based disease management; maintain high standards of quality and safety; and foster future medical innovation.” – John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president, and chief executive officer
For more on diversity in healthcare and racial disparities, read Can Culturally Competent Healthcare Close Disparities Gaps? and The Business Case for Diversity in Healthcare.