October 5th, 2009
02:39 PM ET
9 years ago

Minority groups join forces in health care debate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Minority groups joined forces Monday to form a coalition aimed at mobilizing African-American and Latino communities in the national debate over health care.

The NAACP Voter Fund, the National Council of La Raza, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Campaign for Community Change will kick off an advertising campaign this week. The ads are aimed at pushing minorities to join the debate, specificially by reaching out to fiscally conservative "blue dog" Democrats and urging them to support President Barack Obama's health care plan.

Television, print and radio ads are set to begin on Thursday in Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas and North Carolina, in markets within those states with large minority populations. The ads, revealed Monday at Washington's National Press Club, will appear in both English and Spanish.

"Voices of extremists are loud and clear. Voices of insurance companies are loud and clear. We're here to make sure people of color are heard loud and clear," said Deepak Bhargava, director of the Campaign for Community Change.

"A growing body of public health research is clearly showing that your zip code is more important than your genetic code," said Brian Smedley, director of health policy of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The nonprofit institution researches public policy issues of special concern to African Americans, according to its Web site.

Those racial inequities lead to inequities in health care, Smedley said.

"Today in America, it is not a guarantee that if you have an insurance card in your pocket, you get the timely quality health care that you need. In fact, for many people of color, you are in fact less likely, on average, than white patients to get the same quality of care."

Speakers at the Monday event included NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, who spoke on behalf of the NAACP Voter Fund.

"This is a very personal fight," Jealous said. "We1ve seen 880,000 black people die unnecessarily in the 1990s. We've had hundreds of thousands in this decade and it's time to stop."

The coalition said its overarching principles are twofold: no one, it believes, should do without health care because of a lack of income, and patients should take precedence over profits.

It plans to push for the public option and insist that the health care legislation contain steps to eliminate racial disparities, offer complete health care access for all legal residents and promote cultural competence in a final plan.

"We're focusing our attention on what happens next week, when the finance committee completes its work on the bill, and when both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health Committee come together to develop a merged bill that will be sent to the floor," said Wade Henderson, CEO of the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights.

The overall tone of the health care debate is concerning to Latinos, said Janet Murguia, CEO of the National Council of La Raza.

"I think there's a growing sentiment, anxiety, in the Latino community that this is not just an anti-immigrant, anti-undocumented - this has an anti-Latino sort of feel to it," she said. "And there's an effort to shut down the entire debate on this point."

When African-American and Latino voters join together, they create a voting bloc to be reckoned with, she said. "I think it's fair for all elected officials to be on notice that we're going to use that strength to move forward an agenda and hold elected officials accountable."

Jealous spoke of an "encouragement gap" in the black community and said African-Americans would not be a sure Democratic vote. "The days of Democratic senators counting black voters as a golf handicap has to stop," he said. "It has to stop."

Filed under: Health care • NAACP
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Dan Holiday

    Wow, what a shock. Two groups that are notorious for being lazy and unemployed. Let me guess, they like this idea 'cause they will get MORE free stuff without having to work for it...lol. Oh, and let's not forget about the people that are here ILLEGALLY ! ! Why not give them a bunch of free stuff too? I mean they will need to go to the hospital after getting shot in a drive-by by a rival gang. Or maybe someone they are trying to rape, kill, or rob may injure them during the crime. Shouldn't they be given free health care in case that happens? Puh-lees. This article does not surprise me. If you want to surprise me, write something about how these groups are against getting a free hand out.

    October 5, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Mike in MN

    I'm for everyone getting covered not matter what race, age, religion or sex. But you don't need a pubilc option to do it.
    The debate is really about the public option and the cost, not if reform is needed or justified.
    I do take offense to the statement that the voices of extremists are loud and clear. Makes it sound like anyone against the bills with a public option are extremists. I'm for reform and getting all these people covered, but I don't support the pubic option or a government takeover to do it. I don't believe that is necessary to get it done and comes with too high a price tag. Does that make me an extremist? And these people need to realize that Blue Dogs support getting them covered, just not with a plan that includes a public option. Someone should tell them that Obama has stated that the pubic option is not essential. Obama is yet to say that he would veto a bill that does not have a public option.

    October 5, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Larry

    It is about time for those groups that represent those in need of real health care to take command of the debate. The tea baggers need to be countered. Most of them probably already have the lions' share of health care and are more than likely backed by the insurance industry.

    October 5, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Eleanor

    The NAACP had better watch their step! After ACORN, they'll probably be the next GOP target to hit! After all...if all these minorities get a chance to band together, they might just vote out the white folks!

    October 5, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Kitchen Police

    Medicare for all!!!

    October 5, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. dale

    This should be voted on in 2010 by the people. This is not something our politicians should be doing or instigating with minority groups. Many of the items our administration is looking at should be a public vote.period

    October 5, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Bill in Calif

    THE ONLY 'EXTREMISTS' I SEE AND HEAR are those who would take a great health care system in need of direction from the private sector and hand it to an already bloated ane inept government.

    October 5, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. ATL Guys

    Republicans need to be ashamed of the direction their party has taken off in. From the days of "Compassionate Conservatism" to the boisterous nonsense they call policy today, they've gone from bottom of the barrel to bottom of the gutter. If sufficient minority groups come out in the midterms and show their displeasure to the Republicans, they'll get the trouncing they well deserve.

    October 5, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Michael Hsu

    wild guess – minority political groups will favor govt health plan. It's so obvious because currently minorities can't make enough to pay for their own health care costs – so (as usual) they expect taxpayers to pay for them.

    October 5, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    The democraps have convinced the Latino and minority communities that institutionalized begging is for the common good.

    October 5, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Johnny Neptune

    It's about time minorities (I'm sorry, soon to become the majority) finally put their money and their minds together.

    If we don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything.

    October 5, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. di

    African-American and Latino elected Obama alone? "Voices of extremists are loud and clear" (White Americans) All Americans of color want DC to change. Red, Yellow, Brown, Black and White the people of color US!

    October 5, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Stu

    Pay your own way for a change. The shrinking base of people who actually pay taxes and support themselves is tired of those who live off welfare and entitlements.

    October 5, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. Farrell in Houston

    NO ONE ETHNIC GROUP SHOULD HAVE TO BEAR THE BURDEN ALONE TO BE HEARD, WE ALL VOTED AND MUST STANDUP AND BE ACCOUNTABLE. Our politicians look for minorities at voting time to support them and it's our place to get involved. In fact, the more minorities involved the more all Americans will be heard regardless of ethnic group.

    October 5, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Chris - MN

    It's nice to see the further demonizing of the immigrant from the right. The message from the GOP is finding it's bigoted target and they are loving it. Have fun in obscurity, GOPers, and don't trouble yourself by looking into your own heritage – as clearly none of you ever immigrated yourselves and sprang, fully legal, from the native soil.

    October 5, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Caesar the Great

    When only 53% of adults pay any Federal Taxes each year, please tell me how any of this is fair. Why dont we just go back a few decades and make it so you actually have to work to receive. All this "everyone must be equal" garbage is out of control.

    October 5, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. GuyInVA

    Is this a JOKE. Somebody from these allied groups has the nerve to say the voices of EXTREMISTS are loud and clear. Wow.

    October 5, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Tom Paine

    How about taxpayers? Anyone going to listen to them? Of course not. It's all about the grievance industry and victimhood, like the NAACP, La Raza, Obama and the rest. Gimme Gimme.

    October 5, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Former republican in Philly

    Wow. I'm shocked at how many people assume "minority" and "latino" means "illegal alien."

    Our country has millions of minorities that are here legally (either native born or legal immigrants), and they are disproportionately at low paying jobs without health insurance coverage.

    These "minority groups" deserve to be healthy just as you do, and if no insurance company wants to insure them where should they turn?

    October 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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