That law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and everyone benefits equally from this, and from many other provisions of the law.
But the law also provides coverage for the uninsured, and a disproportionate number of the uninsured are people of color. The most recent statistics show 11.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites uninsured, compared to 15.1 percent of Asians, 19 percent of African-Americans and 29.1 percent of Latinos. In our home state of California, 1.7 million of the 2.6 million who will be eligible for subsidies to help them buy health insurance will be Asian, Latino or African-American.
Racial resentment seems to be playing a part in the intense opposition to the Affordable Care Act from the tea party faction. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, called it “reparations.” Playing on racial resentment is a losing game for Republicans, and to their credit, many Republicans have questioned the shutdown strategy. Arizona Sen. John McCain, for example, called the shutdown “unnecessary,” and even tweeted a post-shutdown Quinnipiac poll reporting that 72 percent of Americans oppose Congress “shutting down major activities of the federal government” as a way to block the Affordable Care Act.
Politicians of all stripes need to wake up to the realities of America’s emerging majority in the 21st century. And Americans of all colors will be better off when all political parties take their needs seriously.
Orson Aguilar is executive director and Carla Saporta is health policy director of The Greenlining Institute.