One Year Later, People of Color Are Health Reform’s Strongest Backers

They're also the ones who stand to lose the most if the GOP effort to repeal or defund it succeeds.

By Shani O. Hilton Mar 23, 2011

Today marks the first anniversary of President Obama’s signature legislation, the health care reform law known as the Affordable Care Act.

As Colorlines’ Jamilah King explained earlier this year, ACA has been under attack from conservatives who want it repealed because it apparently spells creeping socialism. While a measure to repeal the bill passed the House last month, it failed to pass the Senate–and would have been vetoed by the president had it passed.

David Weigel points to polling that shows a majority of Americans approve of health care reform or want the law to be even more liberal. Weigel adds:

There’s room here for Democrats to defend the law in 2012. Their biggest problem is that 48 percent of people over 65 oppose the law because it’s too liberal, and 46 percent either oppose it or want a more liberal law. These are the people who vote at the highest rate and think they have the most to lose if the law’s not repealed. 

As for those who have the most to lose if the law is repealed? King:

According to Leslie Russell at the Center for American Progress, people of color are more likely to be left uninsured and suffer disproportionately from health disparities. Some of the estimates show that while 12 percent of white residents are uninsured, those numbers are nearly double for African-Americans. The numbers are about the same for Latinos and American Indians, whose rates of uninsured total about 32 percent.

Perhaps no surprise, then, that people of color support ACA in the highest numbers, with nearly 80 percent of blacks and 52 percent of Latinos in favor, according to one report. Despite the fact that the bill includes conservative provisions like one that bars federal funding for abortion care, which essentially restricts access to abortion for poor women, the Affordable Care Act will increase access to meaningful health care for women, people of color, and young people.

And it’s important to remember, as the budget debate continues, that ACA isn’t just good for people; it’s good for the deficit, too. While the GOP focuses on pushing through $61 billion in cuts to critical social services, the Congressional Budget Office estimates ACA reduces the deficit by $500 billion and increases revenue by $410 billion.