For the past 11 years, each Martin Luther King Jr. Day the nonprofit organization United for a Fair Economy releases its State of the Dream report. This year’s report is titled “Healthcare for Whom?” It addresses the status of health in the United States along racial and socioeconomic lines (often one and the same), and it looks at states’ implementation (or nonimplementation) of the Affordable Care Act.
The status of health is not measured only by access to health care services but the availability of healthy food and green spaces, exposure to toxins and pollutants, and physical and mental stresses based on quality of life measures such as crime, poverty and racism, according to the report.
Other key findings:
- Blacks and Latinos suffer from lower levels of health insurance: 29 percent of Latinos, 19 percent of Blacks, 15 percent of Asians and 11 percent of Whites were uninsured in 2012
- 25 states are not planning to expand Medicaid programs in 2014. (Two of those 25 states are planning to expand after 2014. Of the 10 million people who would have received health care under the expanded Medicaid program, 5 million will now fall through the new coverage gap—a group that is made up disproportionately of people of color.
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) will, if fully implemented, extend health care coverage to roughly half of the 50 million uninsured individuals in the nation by 2016. This includes 14.7 million people who will get their insurance through the new health insurance exchanges and another 10 million people who will get health insurance through the expansion of the Medicaid program in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Whites represent 65 percent of the nation’s population but account for just 47 percent of those who will fall through the coverage gap. Blacks make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population but represent 27 percent of those who will fall through the coverage gap. Latinos represent 15 percent of the nation’s population but represent 21 percent of those who will now fall through the coverage gap.
United Methodists believe that basic health care is a right, not a privilege. We support health care reform on the governmental level so that quality health care – and not just sick care – is available to all. We are a nation of abundance, where no one should be made destitute because of hospital bills, medication or necessary care.
State of the Dream 2014: Healthcare for Whom [PDF] reports on this political, economic and moral crisis, this crisis of faith. It also includes action ideas.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free.