Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Monday announced a plan to provide health coverage to 100 percent of African Americans in his state as part of an effort to address racial inequalities in health care.
The governor made the announcement during his daily press briefing, saying he believes that health care is a “basic human right” and vowed to use a multifaceted campaign to prioritize black communities.
“We are gonna begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our black and African American communities. Everybody,” he said. “We’re gonna be putting dollars behind it.”
“This is just a first commitment in making up for that inequality that Dr. King said was one of the most severe, and that’s inequality in health care,” he added.
Kentucky statistics show African Americans make up 16.5 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths but only 8.4 percent of Kentucky’s population, according to census data.
“It simply can’t be allowed to continue any longer,” he said. “And it shouldn’t have taken this type of pandemic, or it shouldn’t have taken these types of demonstrations for us to commit to ending it.”
In Beshear’s plan, state-paid “health insurance connectors” will be used to reach out to African American Kentucky residents and assist them in applying for insurance through Medicaid expansion, private plans or federal plans, Bloomberg Law reported.
The governor did not say how the state would give coverage to those who do not qualify for expanded Medicaid and don’t have employer insurance. Beshear also didn’t say how the state would frame a defense of the program if a legal battle arose in which someone says it promotes illegal race-based discrimination.
The administration also proposed changes in law enforcement training, with Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Michael Brown announcing an eight-hour online course to focus on implicit bias, use of force, civil rights laws, community relationships and other topics.
When asked if the course would be enough to fix systemic racism in law enforcement, Beshear said, “No, it’s not. But it’s a start,” ABC affiliate WDKY reported.