Report: Progress in reducing racial gap in health insurance has stalled since 2016

Report: Progress in reducing racial gap in health insurance has stalled since 2016
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While ObamaCare helped narrow gaps in access to health care for racial and ethnic groups, progress has stalled since 2016, according to a report released Thursday. 

The rate of black and Hispanic adults with health insurance improved after implementation of the 2010 health care law, bringing it more in line with the rate of white adults who have health insurance. 

But coverage gains for blacks and Hispanics have stalled since 2016, along with the overall population of the U.S., according to the report from the Commonwealth Fund.

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The uninsured rate for black adults dropped from 24.4 percent in 2013 to 14.4 percent in 2018, while the rate for Hispanic adults dropped from 40.2 percent to 24.9 percent in the same period, according to the study. 

At the same time, the uninsured rate for white adults dropped from 14.5 percent in 2013 to 8.6 percent in 2018. 

But since 2016, the uninsured rate for black adults has gone up by 0.7 percentage points, compared to a 0.5-point increase for white adults. 

This has largely halted the improvement in coverage disparities, the report states.

“It’s encouraging to see that the gaps in access to health care for black and Hispanic adults are narrowing over time, but we cannot let the progress we’ve made slip through our fingers,” Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund. 

The report’s authors suggest that stalled progress could be due to congressional inaction. Congress hasn’t passed any legislation to enhance or improve ObamaCare since it was passed in 2010. 

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The Trump administration has also made a number of decisions that could have led to an increase of the uninsured rate, including funding reductions for ObamaCare’s marketing and outreach.

However, the report noted, racial gaps in health care access are smallest in states that expanded Medicaid. 

While ObamaCare gave states the option to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults, 15 states have still not done so. 

“If more states don’t choose to expand Medicaid, further reductions in racial disparities may be difficult to attain,” the report states.