Ending Obamacare would hurt Black Americans

The HealthCare.gov website main page. The Trump administration is clearing the way for insurers to sell short-term health plans as a bargain alternative to pricey “Obamacare” for consumers struggling with high premiums. But the policies don’t have to cover pre-existing conditions and benefits are limited. It’s not certain if that’s going to translate into broad consumer appeal among people who need an individual policy. (HHS via AP

President Donald Trump announced his renewed effort to end President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law at a time when the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, has narrowed the racial gap in health care coverage. 

Trump vowed to make the Republicans the “party of health care” and directed GOP Senate leaders to make ending Obamacare a top agenda item leading up to the 2020 elections. But days after that declaration, he added that Republicans will not have a replacement plan for at least 19 more months and then only if they win the 2020 election. 

“The president tweeted that they will come up with their plan in 2021,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said. “Translation: they have no health care plan. It’s the same old song they’ve been singing. They’re for repeal. They have no replace.” 

The 2010 health care law, which passed with only Democratic votes, went into effect in 2014 and opened the door to a variety of coverage options for low- and moderate-income individuals who had no health insurance. The options included an expansion of Medicaid coverage in some states. 

“People of color experienced large gains in coverage under the ACA that narrowed longstanding disparities in coverage. Research suggests these gains will likely lead to reductions in disparities in access to and use of health care as well as health outcomes over the long-term,” said a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of Obamacare that was released in February. 

Before Obamacare went into effect, people of color were at much higher risk of being uninsured compared to whites. About 19 percent of African-Americans were uninsured, which doesn’t take into account the scores of Black people who received minimal health coverage on low wage jobs. At that time, 12 percent of whites were also uninsured. 

By 2017, the uninsured rate of Black people fell to 11 percent, while 7 percent of whites also had no health care coverage. 

Trump came into office in 2017 vowing to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better, a vague plan that has never materialized. Even though Republicans controlled Congress in his first two years in office, the GOP failed to put forward an alternative health care plan that received widespread public support or was able to pass in Congress. Trump falsely claimed in the weeks before the 2018 midterm elections that it was a Republican priority to ensure coverage for those with asthma, diabetes, pregnancy and other conditions. He hoped that his base would ignore that the GOP tried but failed for years to end Obamacare, which has become more popular among poor white conservatives who benefitted from health care reform.