Newswire: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights urges Congress to close Medicaid insurance coverage gap, especially in Southern states

Today, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with several other civil rights organizations wrote Democratic members of Congress urging them to close the Medicaid coverage gap in upcoming legislation. The groups pointed out that the current coverage gap leaves over 2 million people, including 600,000 African Americans living in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas living below the poverty line, without access to affordable health insurance coverage.  “In the states that have undertaken it, Medicaid expansion has narrowed racial and ethnic disparities in both coverage and access to care, and it has saved lives. But these more than 600,000 African Americans living in the eight Southern states that have refused to take up the Medicaid expansion have experienced none of these gains, solely because of where they live. Overall, 60 percent of people in the coverage gap in the 12 non-expansion states are people of color, reflecting long-standing racial and ethnic disparities in health care access that Medicaid expansion would do much to address. In these states, African Americans are 19 percent of the adult population but 28 percent of those in the coverage gap,” they noted.  The groups also urged members of Congress to address the coverage disparity in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic amplified pre-existing inequities in health care, with deadly consequences for many in the Black community as well as other communities of color,” they said. “Therefore, we are urging Congress to address this by providing a federal pathway to coverage for the millions of African Americans and other people of color shut out of their state’s Medicaid program.”  Given the systemic racial and economic disparities in the American healthcare system, the groups concluded by insisting that Congress move to address this coverage gap immediately, to ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated to the detriment of the most vulnerable communities.  You can view the full letter at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights webs