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MLK and Health Reform

Yesterday, many of us took time to celebrate and commemorate the life and work of Martin Luther King. Dr. King’s vision spurred the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. His charisma brought 300,000 to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. His efforts, and those of fellow freedom fighters, led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Dr. King’s love of all people caused him to focus on equality not just for African Americans, but for all who lived in poverty, suffered without an education or lacked health care.

It was also upon Dr. King’s shoulders that Congress and President Obama stood last March when they passed and signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA is arguably America’s greatest advancement in health care equality since establishing Medicaid and Medicare in 1965. Among others, the ACA will provide affordable, comprehensive coverage to 32 million currently uninsured Americans. It will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to people simply because of their age or (past) health status and ensure that health plans pay a certain percent of their collected premiums on care for their enrolled members. The provisions in the law will slow the current exponential cost growth in the health care industry and make the health insurance system more fair and more understandable for all Americans.

Today, we are indebted to Dr. King’s contribution to our society, and on the occasion of his 71st birthday it is only appropriate we stop and give thanks for all that he and others suffered and sacrificed for us and future generations.