Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that his administration will work to end health care problems within the black community, aiming to provide coverage to “100 percent” of the state’s African American population.
In his address Monday, Beshear stated that he believes “health care is a basic human right.” While he specifically focused on black residents in the state, he also said he would like to improve health care in the state for “everybody.”
“My commitment today is we are going to begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our black and African-American communities—everybody,” Beshear said. “We’re going to be putting dollars behind it, we’re going to have a multi-faceted campaign to do it. But it’s time, especially during COVID-19, when we see what happens when you don’t have coverage. We need to make sure everybody does.”
Beshear continued, saying it was time to give health care “prioritization” to the black American community:
Today, I’m going to make a commitment on coverage. I believe that health care is a basic human right and I talked about when I was running that I wanted everybody to have some form of health care coverage. Well, as I’ve been listening and as I’ve been trying to hear from those who have been giving voice on in inequality, it is that it’s time to give prioritization in black and African-American communities, so we are going to do that.
Beshear said the coronavirus exposed the inequalities in health care among black and white residents in the United States as African Americans died at a much higher rate than white people.
“In our health care system, the inequality of our system have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic,” Beshear continued. “By allowing this type of inequality to exist for as long as it has, we see African-Americans dying at twice the rate that they make up of the population. That simply cannot be allowed to continue any longer.”
“It shouldn’t have taken this kind of pandemic and it shouldn’t have taken these types of demonstrations for us to commit to ending it,” Beshear added.
According to the 2018 American Community Survey, there are an estimated 20,000, or 5.8 percent, uninsured black Kentuckians. The same survey revealed the state’s overall uninsured rate to be 5.6 percent. In total, black Americans make up about eight percent of Kentucky’s population.