Black American communities targeted in conference call
By Derek Joy
President Barack Obama went on the offensive.
Education was the focus. The mission was simple: Provide updates on the ACHA and its much maligned Website. Black American communities were the targeted market.
The Obama Administration and the Congressional Black Caucus hosted a conference call with members of the African American Media to convey those updates.
Kevin Lewis, director of African American Media Affairs for the White House Press Secretary, moderated the conference call.
“The percentage of Americans with health care insurance is up. There are 7.3-million African Americans with health care coverage,” said Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor. “Providing affordable health care has been, and remains, a priority for President Obama.”
Jarrett was joined on the panel by U. S. House of Representatives Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, (Dem., South Carolina), and Health and Human Services Director of External Affairs Anton Gunn.
“Republicans need to stop trying to sabotage the Affordable Health Care Act. It’s the law. They should stop talking about what’s wrong with it and start telling us what they’re going to do,” added Jarrett, while noting “Republicans haven’t provided any alternatives.
The AHCA, dubbed Obamacare by Republicans, has been a political lightning rod. Tea Party Republicans forged a divisive campaign strategy for the 2012 mid-term elections.
Their strategy sought to defeat President Obama’s re-election bid, regain a majority in the Senate and increase their majority in the House. It was a strategic and political failure for the GOP.
Lewis, Jarrett, Gunn and Clyburn took turns citing President Obama’s recent speech on equality.
“The President’s speech on equality quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Clyburn. “He spoke on inequities in American society. The inequities in healthcare are the most egregious of all.
“Seventeen million children were denied health care because they’re born with a condition like diabetes. There are 250,000 of those children in my home state of South Carolina.”
The AHCA Website, crippled by unexpected technical challenges, did not perform as promised. Republicans pounced on the failures. President Obama’s approval rating plummeted.
Those technical challenges stalled the enrollment process. Public frustrations mounted into a barrage of criticism. The perception, among Republicans and in the media, was that of a catastrophic failure for President Obama.
“We want to make sure that all Americans who don’t have employer insurance coverage have access to the marketplace. There is a marked improvement to the Website. We‘re working to resolve those issues,” said Gunn.
“Software improvements eliminated 400 bugs. There is better management, more accountability. It’s going a lot faster. The user experience is vastly different today than it was in Oct.”
Dec. 23, is the deadline for applicants who want their coverage to begin January 1, 2014. Open enrollment lasts until March 2014. Insurance companies are being asked to ex-tend their cancellation dead-lines.
The AHCA also provided for an expansion of Medicaid. Republicans won a partial victory in their legal challenge when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that participation by individual states in the expanded Medicaid Program must be voluntary.
Thus far 25 states and the District of Columbia are participating in the expanded Medicaid Program. The federal government pays 100-percent of the cost for the first three years and never less than 90-percent, according to Jarrett.