Affordable Care Act Repeal Bill Passes U.S. House

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 2/5/2015, 12:23 p.m.
On February 3, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a margin of 239 yeas to 136 nays H.R. ...


On February 3, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a margin of 239 yeas to 136 nays H.R. 596, legislation to fully and completely repeal the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), otherwise known as Health Care Reform, also known as “ObamaCare.” The NAACP is deeply opposed to this legislation, as the ACA has important implications for all Americans, and especially for African Americans as they face longstanding and persistent disparities in health, health insurance coverage, and health care.

Millions of Americans across the country, and disproportionately racial and ethnic minority Americans including African Americans, are already benefiting from the stronger and more robust coverage and consumer protections made possible by the ACA. In 2010, prior to enactment of the ACA, more than 20% of all African Americans did not have any health insurance; this can be compared to the national average, which was roughly 15%. As of 2011, there were almost 8 million uninsured nonelderly African Americans. More than two-thirds of these uninsured African Americans were in a working family, including half who had at least one full-time worker in the family. Since the start of ACA's first open enrollment period last year, the uninsured rate among non-elderly African Americans has declined by 30 percent. In just one year, 1.7 million uninsured African Americans gained health coverage, and by 2016, unless the law is repealed, about 2.9 million African-Americans are projected to gain coverage, a reduction in the number of uninsured African Americans by about 42%. This does not include the more than 500,000 African American young adults between ages 19 and 26 who would have been uninsured, including 230,000 African American women, but now have coverage under their parents’ employer-sponsored or individually purchased health insurance plan.

Furthermore, thanks to the ACA, 7.8 million African Americans with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing. This includes services such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults. This is especially important for African Americans, as increased prevention may decrease some of the health care disparities which have plagued us for too long. Also as a result of the ACA, about 10.4 million African Americans no longer have lifetime or annual limits on their health insurance coverage, and nearly eight million African Americans with a preexisting health condition are no longer at risk of being denied coverage since the ACA prohibits insurers from denying someone coverage or charging them more because of a pre-existing condition.

Sadly, all of these gains (and others) will be lost if the ACA is repealed. Thus, it is imperative that we contact our Senators and urge them to support heath care reform and oppose H.R. 596, the repeal of the ACA. We have come too far.

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