If 'Obamacare' ends, millions of blacks could remain without health insurance

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A Supreme Court decision striking down President Obama’s entire health care law would keep seven million African-Americans from getting insurance.

In hearings on Wednesday, the courts’ conservatives seemed poised to issue a ruling in June that would invalidate the entire law. And that would have a major impact on African-Americans. An estimated seven million of the 30 million who would eventually get health insurance under the law are black.

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While much attention has been focused on the law’s requirement that people purchase insurance, its expansions of Medicaid (the insurance program for low-income Americans), is perhaps just as important. Under the law, because of expansions of federal funding for Medicaid, an estimated 16 million low-income Americans, many of them black, would get coverage. (Under the new law, Medicaid would cover most families whose income is below $29,000 per year.)

Gutting the law would also affect another provision that disproportionately helps African-Americans. The Affordable Care Act, as “Obamacare” is formally known, requires insurance companies to cover and offer reasonable prices to people who don’t get insurance through their employers, even if they have chronic illnesses.

This provision is critical because about half of working-age blacks don’t get health insurance through jobs, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington think-tank.

Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr