I was standing in front of the Supreme Court when news came that the court had upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It was interesting to watch Republicans yell and scream at the court that rendered this dramatic affirmation of the president’s health care initiative. They were the same people who challenged the initial passage of the ACA and who’ve pushed back against everything the president has tried to accomplish.
This court that gave Republicans their president of choice in the 2000 election and, now, the chief justice who led in awarding Republicans their victory in Citizens United have become targets of Republican wrath!
I’m still reading details of this signature legislation of President Obama’s first term, but I already know this is a huge victory for the American people – especially millions of African-Americans.
Republicans are trying to spin the decision as though it weren’t a loss, but their bizarre and erratic behavior at the Supreme Court disproved their statements. The misinformation they provided to those around them was more a function of their confusion and ignorance rather than anything else.
As John Boehner pronounced the decision as giving them the energy to keep up the fuss about “Obamacare,” I and others proudly wore t-shirts that said, “I like Obamacare” – because I know President Obama Cares!”
Risked his presidency
When he ran for president, he promised us affordable healthcare. He has risked his presidency to do what he promised – improve the quality of health care and reduce the cost to taxpayers. He’s had unprecedented pushback since the bill passed, but he’s held firm because of his commitment to provide quality health care for all. Work remains to implement and improve ACA, but we’ll get it done!
The president knows that being a woman doesn’t constitute a “pre-existing condition” and pregnancy does not justify discrimination against women by insurers. The ACA assures that no one will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition. He knew it was right to keep young adults on the family health plan until they are 26, including 410,000 more African-Americans.
The ACA will increase funding to community health centers in all 50 states. In 2010, nearly 26 percent of patients served by U.S. community health centers were African-American. More than five million African-Americans who now have private health insurance will keep coverage for preventive services for no extra cost, and more than 2.4 million African-American seniors with Medicare have already received free preventive services. The ACA saves seniors about $600 a year on prescriptions; mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors are also covered.
As a constitutional scholar, the president was confident the court would do the right thing. Justice Thomas notwithstanding, the president stood firmly in support of the right of good health for the people, and he won.
Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel policies, deny coverage or charge women more than men. The law will save lives by making health care more accessible and affordable – allowing us to diminish health disparities of African-Americans.
Having overcome the health care hurdle, the president has the challenge of the distraction of a Republican attack on the credibility of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Once that issue is resolved and despite opposition, he will again be able to fight for legislation to improve the economy. We can expect a renewed focus on building bridges, schools and roads, and putting people back to work.
Let’s lean forward and stand with President Obama as he continues to bring us the “change” he promised in 2008.
Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org.