Personal Health

The GOP Fights to Make African-Americans Sicker and Poorer

Republican-driven lawsuits against health care reform will particularly hurt blacks.

Here’s just a sampling of the sorry state of black health in America from Kaiser’s Key Facts: Race, Ethnicity & Medical Care. People living in poverty are more likely to report being in only Fair or Poor health. Regardless of education, African Americans lead the nation in infant mortality. African American men and women have highest death rate due to heart disease. African Americans even lead in death rates by breast cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Twenty-three percent of working African Americans are uninsured.

Faced with this, you have two choices. Option 1: Fight for some legislation to help improve these dreadful statistics. Option 2: Obstruct like hell to preserve the status quo and when that fails sue to make sure Option 1 doesn’t happen.

Democrats chose Option 1, Republicans are choosing Option 2.

This week, a federal judge cleared the way for the Republican-dominated lawsuits against health care reform. However, it’s easy to question this particular judge because of his links to conservative causes.

Out of the 13 states that filed suit only one has a Democratic attorney general and his Republican puppet master, Bobby Jindal, forced him into it. The others are states like Virginia where 20 percent of blacks are uninsured, Alabama where it is 18 percent, South Carolina where it is 20 percent, Texas where it is 25 percent and Louisiana where it is 27 percent. How much insurance could you buy just with the lawyers’ fees?

These lawsuits are about election-year politics, not sane policy.

These lawsuits are frivolous. This mandate that you must have insurance is well within Congress’s commerce clause abilities. Besides, Congress already mandates we do lots of things (i.e. restaurants can’t discriminate, businesses must provide safe working conditions, men must sign up for Selective Service). The real purpose of the legislation was to try and limit the spiraling costs of health care, which it just might. Or it might not, but that doesn’t make it illegal.

The real purpose of this lawsuit, however, is to pander to the Republican Party’s Tea Party right wing, not the rational right. Republicans do not want to get spit on, so instead of facing up to the Tea Party, they waste taxpayer money in an unnecessary lawsuit.

If Republicans actually cared about your health they would have negotiated in good faith with Obama and congressional Democrats. Instead, they dug in their heels and said “Hell, No!” 

The Party of No played politics all along with a working hypothesis that if Obama could not pass legislation, Democrats would lose seats in 2010 and it could serve as a springboard to launch Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney or Michele Bachman to the White House in 2012.

Republicans never recognized that Democrats were the majority and so refused to compromise. Is the bill perfect? No, but Democrats compromised to get Republican votes and in return all they got was Tea Party fury. Many Democrats, including Obama, wanted a public option, but willingly compromised so they could pass a bill most Americans could support.

Another ugly reality that Republicans will never admit to is that African Americans are the Democratic Party’s core voting bloc. Outside of Clarence Thomas and Michael Steele, I challenge you to name five famous black Republicans without using Google. Republicans do not care if their lawsuit hurts blacks or anybody else because it is not about policy, it is all politics.

This story first appeared on offers insight, resources and opinions on African American issues. Our content serves to advance the debate toward black economic progress by focusing on finance, politics and culture. Register and read more at

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