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Health Care Essay

1340 words - 6 pages

Racial disparities in The United States health care system are widespread and well documented. Social and economic inequalities between racial minorities and their white counter parts have lead to lower life expectancy rates, higher infant mortality rates, and overall poorer health for people of color. As the nation’s population continues to become increasingly diverse, these disparities are likely to grow if left unaddressed. The Affordable Care Act includes various provisions that specifically aim to reduce inequalities for racially and ethnically marginalized groups. These include provisions in the Senate bill and House bill that aim to expand coverage, boost outreach and education programs, establish standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate practices, and diversify the health care workforce. The ACA, while not a perfect solution for eliminating health disparities, serves as an important first step and an unprecedented opportunity to improve health equity in the United States.

Provisions to expand Medicaid are central to legislation aiming to eliminate racial inequities. Minorities make up about one-third of the population, but account for over half of the total 47 million uninsured. This is a reflection of racialized economic structures that leave many minorities unable to afford insurance or access employer-based coverage. The ACA attempts to decrease the rate of uninsured for low-income individuals and families by expanding Medicaid to adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Although this provision will help to expand coverage to some of the nations poorest individuals, the Supreme Court’s Decision to leave the choice to expand up to the states has a serious impact on the breadth and success of expansion.
Most governors choosing not to expand claim to be doing so on economic grounds, but according to a recent study done by the Commonwealth Fund, States that refuse to expand stand to lose billions of dollars. After taking into account federal taxes paid by state residents, the study concluded that Texas will see the highest net loss of $9.2 billion, followed by Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. The seemingly counterproductive decision to reject expansion is a demonstration of the ways Medicaid has been inextricably linked to race, and politics. Excluding Arkansas, every state in the deep -south has rejected to expand. This is problematic because these states all have large populations of impoverished and uninsured minorities. This has particularly serious implications for Blacks, with 6 out of 10 living in states rejecting expansion. According to The New York Times, “the 26 states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion are home to about half of the country’s population, but about 68 percent of poor, uninsured blacks.” Furthermore, the income eligibility line in these states are significantly lower, with many states requiring an income lower than half the federal poverty line in order to...

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