Friday, January 13, 2017

In nasty health-care battle, racism is rearing its ugly head

From cartoonist Steve Sack, a Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning in 2013, on the "Russian hookers rumor" dogging President-elect Donald J. Trump a week before he is inaugurated.


A black journalist strongly suggests racism is behind the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act or what Republicans curse as "Obamacare."

"Neither President Obama nor his detractors saw political advantage in discussing the Affordable Care Act as an anti-poverty or racial-justice program, but it is both of those things," Kai Wright reported today on WNYC-FM, a National Public Radio station based in Manhattan.

"Between the January 2014 launch of new coverage options and ... that August, the nation's public-insurance program for the working poor grew by roughly 7 million people.

"As of this summer, it had gone up by more than 10 million," Wright said in a story adopted from one he wrote for The Nation's special issue, The Obama Years.

"The Affordable Care Act overall has likely saved hundreds of thousands of black lives, and it has certainly produced one of the most significant advances in racial equity on record:

"By the end of 2014, in just one year's time, it had entirely erased the disparity in health coverage between white and black kids," Wright said.

Media coverage

Like many news outlets, The Record repeatedly refers to the Affordable Care Act as "Obamacare," adopting a favorite pejorative used by Donald J. Trump during his Republican presidential campaign.

Tea Party radicals compared the health-care law to the Holocaust, but Republicans failed repeatedly to have the 2010 law declared illegal.

Now that Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election, Republicans who control Congress have begun the process of repealing the health-care law, which provides coverage to 20 million Americans who didn't have insurance.

But Trump and Republicans have been careful to avoid saying just how many of those Americans are black and Hispanic or what will replace the health-care law.

Medicaid expansion

In The Record today, the last two paragraphs of an Associated Press story on 6A reports the law "steered billions of [federal] dollars to states [including New Jersey]" to expand "the Medicaid health program for the poor."

"The health care law does have problems, but independent experts say it's an exaggeration to call it a total failure," according to the AP.

The Record and other media have found it far easier to quote critics of the health-care law than to actually do any reporting about the coverage.

My experience

More than eight years after I left The Record, I am paying slightly less for health insurance for my wife and son, purchased on the federal marketplace, than I did in the years after I became eligible for Medicaid.

I had to purchase their coverage from North Jersey Media Group until I was able to buy policies for them under the Affordable Care Act.

Food confusion

On the Better Living cover today, a headline declares:

"Most Anticipated Restaurant
 Openings in 2017"

But readers turning to the centerfold find only five restaurants listed, which would mean no other restaurant opening in the next 11 months is among the "most anticipated" (10BL and 11BL).

Meanwhile, the headline over the story is totally different:

"New Restaurants To
Look Forward To In 2017"

To add to the confusion, the dish pictured on the cover isn't identified, as it usually is, on 2BL, where readers are told:

"On the cover: There have been plenty of new restaurants that have opened in North Jersey in the past few months."

All of this sloppy work appears under the byline of The Record's food editor, Esther Davidowitz.

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