In an attempt to educate black Americans about the impact President Barack Obama’s health care plan will have on their lives, the White House dispatched a key advisor to make that pitch.
Speaking to media in a conference call Tuesday afternoon, just hours after President Obama signed the landmark legislation into law, Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the president, referred to the law as a “monumental accomplishment for the White House.”
“This is a very momentous occasion as President Obama has accomplished something that seven presidents before him were unable to, which is to provide affordable health care to all Americans,” said Jarrett, an assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs. “This is especially important for our community because we so often are plagued with disparities in access to quality health care.”
The administration has noted that several elements of the bill will go into effect immediately, among them: children can no longer be denied care due to a pre-existing condition and young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance policy until they turn 26.
When asked to outline specific benefits to African-Americans, Jarrett noted the health insurance exchanges that will be established by 2014. Those, she said, will allow individuals to purchase insurance in a competitive market.
“The exchange will be regulated by the government to assure that patients are not denied because of pre-existing conditions or are dropped when they become ill. There will also be $11 billion invested into community health centers which provide medical care to many communities of color.”
Jarrett scoffed when asked about the unpopularity of the legislation in the polls, particularly the “individual mandate” in the law requiring every American to obtain insurance. Rasmussen Reports, an electronic publishing firm, reported this week that 49 percent of U.S. voters favor their state suing the federal government to fight the requirement.
“President Obama cannot concern himself with what polls are saying because if he did he probably would not be president, since one poll had him trailing by 30 points at one time during the primary,” said Jarrett of the 2008 presidential campaign.
“The president,” she added, “wants to do what is best for the American people.”
Jarrett acknowledged that there is some apprehension of the law among some Americans, due in part to “less than objective coverage” and by critics “distorting the truth about the plan in the media.”
“When people are asked do they agree with abolishing discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and offering seniors assistance paying for their prescription drugs- they usually show wide support,” she said. “I think, over time, people will see this plan for all the good it will bring to them, and help them finally be able to get affordable and accessible health care.”