A national healthcare coalition comprised of 15 national organizations and networks launches a 17 city Demand Access: Black Healthcare Access Tour to raise awareness about the importance of healthcare access in Black communities, mobilize communities to respond to recent threats to the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), and help individuals sign up for insurance during the 2017 ACA open-enrollment period: November 1, 2017 thru December 15, 2017.
Initiated by the Black AIDS Institute (BAI), the National Healthcare Access Coalition includes: The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Positive Women’s Network (PWN), the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC), AIDS United, Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust, amfAR, Planned Parenthood, The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Health Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard School of Law, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, Get Covered America, Consumers for Quality Care, and the Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN).
“The 2017 open-enrollment period for Obamacare (ACA) opened on November 1st and ends on December 15th”, said Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. “That is just six weeks. Thanks to Donald Trump, that is half the time allotted in the previous two years.”
Since his inauguration, Mr. Trump and the Republican-controlled United States Congress have significantly increased their efforts to dismantle the ACA. The Trump Administration cut funding for outreach and advertising for the 2017 open-enrollment period and enrollment navigators, making it harder for people to find the help that they need to apply for healthcare coverage. In October, the President declared the ACA “dead” and “gone”. The Congress just added a provision in the new Tax Reform Bill to eliminate the individual mandate requirement in the ACA.
“If the President is successful in eliminating the ACA individual mandate, he will effectively have sabotaged the ACA. Over 15 million Americans will lose their insurance, the markets will be destabilized, and insurance premiums will skyrocket!” says Wilson. “Black people know what suppression looks like. We know what intimidation looks like. We know what discrimination looks like. The Trump Administration has engaged in a robust campaign of intimidation and discrimination designed to suppress enrollment in the ACA and deny millions of Americans access to healthcare to benefit corporations and rich people.”
Despite the Trump Administration’s efforts, there have been unprecedented numbers of Americans signing up for insurance through the health exchanges and on HealthCare.gov during the first week of the open enrollment period. “We are seeing increased numbers of people signing up for insurance through the health exchanges” says Lestian McNeal, mobilization coordinator for the Black AIDS Institute. “The point of the Demand Access tour is to make sure that Black people are not left out.”
To bridge the void in government support created by the Trump Administration’s callous actions, the Demand Access tour is taking the message of empowerment and healthcare advocacy to Black communities across the country, and Demand Access to healthcare for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, health status, gender identity or race.
The Demand Access tour is just one component of the coalition’s more comprehensive “Access Denied” initiative. The initiative is designed to increase awareness about the importance of preserving the benefits, coverage, and reach currently provided by the Affordable Care Act on the future of the AIDS response in Black America; to increase the capacity of Black America to engage and influence current and future federal, state, and local discussions and decisions about healthcare; and to facilitate the mobilization of Black communities in response to attempts to repeal and replace the ACA.
In September, the coalition released the “State of Healthcare in Black America” report that included a primer for Black communities on the ACA, with the aim of closing knowledge gaps and dispelling myths and misunderstandings about the program. To download a copy of the report, go to www.BlackAIDS.org.
The seventeen (17) city Demand Access tour began on Friday, November 10 in Melbourne, Florida. In the first week of the tour, the Coalition held community forums and town hall meetings in Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Birmingham, Alabama. The remaining 10 tour dates are:
· November 27 – Houston, Texas
· November 29 – Baton Rouge, La.
· December 1 – Washington, D.C.
· December 2 – Richmond, Va.
· December 4 – Baltimore, Md.
· December 5 – Chicago, Ill.
· December 7 – Detroit, Mich.
· December 9 – Jackson, Miss.
· December 11 – Oakland, Calif.
· December 14 – Los Angeles, Calif.
For more information about the Black Healthcare Access Tour or the Access Denied Initiative, contact Fatima Hyacinthe at FatimaH@BlackAIDS.org.
ABOUT THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE
Founded in May of 1999, the Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute’s mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides advocacy mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.