Nearly a decade ago, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMichelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, making it one of the largest expansions of access to quality affordable health care in our nation’s history. The passage of the ACA was a significant achievement following decades of failure to pass meaningful reform.

Before the ACA, nearly 50 million Americans lacked health insurance and nearly 10 million were African American. Women were charged more than men for the same care and insurers could drop, deny coverage, or charge 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions more for their care. In many cases, individuals with pre-existing conditions such as cancer or diabetes, were unable to afford insurance, if they could obtain it at all.

Thanks to the ACA, nearly 20 million Americans, including millions of African Americans now have access to quality affordable healthcare and enjoy greater health and financial security. Now, children can remain on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 and health insurance companies can no longer drop or denying care due to a pre-existing condition.

ADVERTISEMENT

African Americans are one of the primary beneficiaries of the ACA’s success and its preservation remains a top priority for the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Our caucus stood firm in helping to usher in the ACA’s original passage and fend off subsequent Republican led repeal and replace efforts. Sadly, the Trump administration continues to attack, undermine and sabotage our health care system every day. Just last week, the Department of Justice announced its decision to support a court ruling that would overturn the ACA – stripping millions of Americans of their access to care.

As the members of the CBC continue to combat these efforts and work to strengthen the ACA, our members will also continue to ensure that our nation does more to address the health disparities that disproportionately affect African Americans. Black women have experienced significant advancements under the ACA. Because of the law, there has been an increase in the number of African American women who regularly receive care. Many of whom would have delayed or went without care due to cost.

While the African American community has made great strides, African Americans continue to have a higher uninsured rate and higher death rates than their Caucasian counterparts for manageable or preventable conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and stroke. But more importantly, millions of African Americans continue to lack coverage because they live in states where local leaders have declined to accept the ACA’s provisions for Medicaid expansion.

Overall, the uninsured rate for African Americans has been reduced by more than one-third thanks to the ACA. Now, with 55 members that span across the nation, the CBC has its largest membership on record. This majority gives the CBC a significant portion of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. As a result, we plan to lead in both protecting the ACA and digging deeper to address many inequities that still exist within America’s health care system.

Make no mistake, the CBC is addressing many of these challenges head on. Whether through the CBC Health Braintrust Chaired by Rep. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries MORE (D-Ill.), legislation introduced by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe DHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' Cummings tears into DHS chief for conditions at migrant border facilities MORE (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to address the rising costs of prescription drugs, the Insulin Access For All Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushCongress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries The Hill's Morning Report - Harris, Warren rise and Biden tumbles after debates MORE (D-Ill.) or legislation to strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions and lower health care cost introduced by Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHouse approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour Anyone for tennis? Washington Kastles Charity Classic returns this week Liberal Democrats warn: We'll sink minimum wage bill if moderates change it MORE (D-Va.), chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. Our caucus will be a forceful counterweight to voices on the extreme right who want to strip care from millions of Americans and allow drug companies to continue increase their bottom-line at the expense of the American people.

Bass is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.