Horace Sheffield III
Martin Luther King Jr. Day gives us a chance to honor a great man who sacrificed his life in the name of equality and the fight for social justice, and to evaluate our successes and remaining needs in achieving this lofty goal.
In a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told the audience *“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Tackling disparities in health care remains an important part of the movement for social justice.
Though there remains much work to be done, the new federal health care reform, the Affordable Care Act makes huge strides in increasing equality and justice in health care and health care coverage.
On MLK Day 2012, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathy Sebelius stated that African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are more likely to be uninsured.
This health care inequity within communities of color must be addressed in order for America to be the promise land that he dreamed of. But President Obama’s new health care law will enable all Americans to obtain health insurance and will make it easier for small businesses to provide health care which will help cities like Detroit to grow economically and provide jobs.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, 32 million people without insurance will be able to find coverage and there will be a huge investment in primary care to bring more doctors and nurses to underserved communities in Detroit.
Under the Affordable Care Act, seniors will now have access to free preventive services and wellness visit with their doctor to talk about diet and exercise,
women will now have access to free mammograms and more resources are being directed toward school-based health centers, which provide medical care to school-aged children.
Healthy people and children do much better in school and at work. The Affordable Care Act does not eliminate all disparity in health care in this country, and we must all continue to work to achieve this goal, but it takes huge strides in bringing equality and justice to our health care system by ensuring that all communities have access to care.
Jan. 20, we celebrate the life of King and everything he stood for, including the struggle for equality in health care. Let us also celebrate the strides we have taken to accomplish his goals, with the passage and now implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
(The Rev. Horace Sheffield III is the pastor of the New Destiny Baptist Church in Detroit. He also is the host of the “Real Talk” television show and “On The Line” radio show.)