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The Voice of the Black Community

Opinion

Republicans halt health care for Americans. Democrats advance it.
Joe Biden will deliver coverage we can count on
 
Published Monday, October 26, 2020 1:25 pm
by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams

The COVID pandemic is devastating our community. 1 in 1,000 Black Americans have died from COVID-19, and right now, in late October, cases are at the highest levels recorded since July.

Friday, the United States reported more than 80,000 cases, the second-highest number of new infections in a single day during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is living in an alternate reality. Last week, during the debate, President Trump falsely claimed we are “rounding the turn on coronavirus.”

No, Mr. President, we are not rounding the corner on the pandemic, and sadly, no one is at the wheel as we head into a potentially catastrophic flu season without a national plan. Instead, the White House is covering up a COVID-19 outbreak in the vice president’s office.


The solution seems pretty simple to me: during the worst public health crisis our nation has ever faced, what is one thing people desperately need? Health care.


On the other hand, what are President Trump and the Republicans trying to take away from Americans? Health care.


North Carolina is one of the top ten states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. At the same time, over one million North Carolinians do not have health insurance. Black and Hispanic residents make up a disproportionate number of the uninsured -- 21 and 26 percent, respectively. At a time when people of color are dying from COVID-19 at up to 2.3 times the rate of white people, it is clear we need improved access to health care for all North Carolinians, including expanding Medicaid.

If the state expanded Medicaid, as the majority of the country has done through the Affordable Care Act, as many as 634,000 North Carolinians could gain coverage.


Despite the clear demand for increased access to health care, the Trump administration is intent on ripping health care away from more than 20 million Americans, including 387,000 North Carolinians. On November 10, the Supreme Court will hear the latest case against the Affordable Care Act, brought by the Trump Administration. With this case, Medicaid expansion, protections for pre-existing conditions, the ability to stay on parents’ health insurance until age 26, and the 10 essential health benefits of the ACA are all at risk.

And after nearly four years of promising to repeal and replace, President Trump still has not offered a new health care plan. It’s clear now more than ever, that he has no plan. He never did.


Even before COVID-19 hit North Carolina, we needed leadership to expand access to health care. Republican elected officials blocked Medicaid expansion for far too long, and their party leader, President Trump, is now trying to sink the ACA altogether. Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court demonstrates his complete disregard for Americans in need of quality, affordable health care.

Instead, we need a coalition of Democratic leaders who believe healthcare is a human right, not a privilege, to take the helm. That’s why I introduced legislation to make health care a Constitutional right, and that’s one of the many reasons why I support Joe Biden.


Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will bring health care solutions to the White House. Between introducing a public option, lowering the Medicare enrollment age, and increasing competition to lower drug prices, the Biden-Harris ticket offers fixes to many of North Carolinians’ most pressing health care woes. They are not ignoring the reality that low-income residents and people of color face worse social determinants of health, systemic disparities, and have unequal access to health care.

Fortunately, they have a plan and will address these problems head-on.


As co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, I’ve worked closely with Senator Harris to develop legislative solutions to address the Black maternal health crisis. In the wealthiest country in the world, Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die in childbirth as white women. This disparity even persists across education and socioeconomic levels.

To address these unacceptable disparities, we introduced a historic legislative package to fill existing gaps in maternal health care, which disproportionately impact Black mothers in our country.

Our package, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, consists of nine bills calling for policy changes such as extending postpartum eligibility for the WIC nutrition program, investments in rural maternal health care, promotion of a diverse perinatal workforce, and implicit bias training. I know Sen. Harris will continue looking out for the health of all Americans, including Black women, as vice president.


A Biden-Harris administration would bring the right kind of leadership to health care policy, and it would greatly benefit all North Carolinians. It is time to mobilize on health care expansion, rather than halt it like the GOP has been doing in recent years. These actions were already unconscionable before the worst health care pandemic in recent history and the devastation it brought to our communities.


As Joe Biden said on debate night, “Anyone that is responsible for 220,000 deaths should not remain as President of the United States.” I couldn't agree more. Let’s turn this mother out and vote like our lives depend on it, because they do.


Alma Adams represents the 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Comments

Couldn't agree with you more. It sickens me that this is happening in our country. But thank goodness that I am one of the lucky ones that has health insurance.
Posted on October 26, 2020
 

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