Leaders Discuss Health Care in Black Community; Presidential Candidate Reform Plans
During a Black Press teleconference last week, health experts and a lawmaker discussed health care in the black community and the proposals of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Louisiana Weekly reports the (Louisiana Weekly, 10/8).
Obama has proposed to require employers to offer health insurance or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a federal fund to provide coverage, with an exemption for small businesses. Subsidies would be provided to lower-income people to help them obtain coverage. In addition, the proposal would establish a health insurance "exchange" that would offer people a choice between private insurance plans and a public plan. Insurers would be required to accept anyone, regardless of their health status.
The McCain proposal would replace an income tax break for employees who receive health insurance from employers with a refundable tax credit of as much as $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families who purchase coverage through their employers or the individual market. In addition, the proposal would allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/9). Byllye Avery, a founder and president of the National Black Women's Health Imperative, said, "There are over seven million [blacks] without health care -- seven million. When we don't have access to health care -- that means we routinely delay care. The lack of routine medical care in itself is a cause of serious ill health."
Charles Franklin -- an internal medicine physician in Silver Spring, Md., who estimates that 60% to 70% of his patients are black and about 20% are Hispanic -- said, "One of the biggest barriers to [blacks] getting the type of care and being able to find a physician that understands us and speaks our language is lack of insurance," adding, "About 20% of us don't have health insurance and it's even worse in the Hispanic community, about 30%" (Louisiana Weekly, 10/8).