For the Black Caucus, Obamacare Education Outweighs Politics

Oakland

“There’s still so much misinformation out there about the Affordable Care Act,” said Representative Donna Christensen, a Democrat for the U.S. Virgin Islands, explaining to Politico the motivations behind the “Making Good Health My Reality” tour sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “We want to make sure that our communities are prepared and know what to expect and are ready to take advantage of both the enrollment and Medicaid expansion where it exists.”

There is no doubt the Affordable Care Act is currently as politically divisive, if not more, than when the legislation was first past three years ago. But unlike the National Football League, which chose not to get caught up in the political crossfire, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have determined that such a tour to educate the public is not about politics, but about getting Americans the facts they need. Now, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will not be the only government figure pitching Obamacare this summer.

Members of the caucus have planned an eight-city tour of their own to “ensure communities are equipped with the information they need” to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare-mandated exchanges and to understand the sweeping implications of the health care reform.

The “Making Good Health My Reality” tour will begin in the Virgin Islands, the district represented by Caucus Delegate Christensen, and then move on to Chicago, Oakland, Miami, Dallas, Brooklyn, New York, Las Vegas, and Baltimore. At each stop, caucus delegates and local lawmakers are planning to discuss the insurance coverage options available to constituents. Significantly, each stop is in a predominantly minority community, whose citizens disproportionately lack health insurance when compared to more affluent areas in the nation.

Christensen, the first female physician lawmaker in the history of the United States Congress, and other members of the caucus met with President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the White House. “We wanted to make sure that some administration people would be joining us on the tour,” she told the publication. She said she made a similar request to Sebelius when the secretary attended a Democratic Caucus meeting last month; however, details on such an arrangement are still being worked out.

A spokeswoman for the caucus reiterated that the tour is not intended to express support for the legislation, but to inform potentially confused constituents. Still, “members of the CBC shared a common interest [with the Obama administration] in amplifying the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and plan to start a tour this summer to inform their constituents about the health care marketplaces set to open on October 1,” read the transcript of the president’s meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. It was the White House that first revealed the plans for the tour.

The White House delivered a much more specific health care pitch to Hispanic and black communities, emphasizing the wide disparity in health outcomes in minority communities.

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