Andy Beshear (D), the governor of Kentucky, announced plans to ensure that every Black resident in the state has access to free health coverage in an attempt to correct racial injustices. Right now, there are more than 18,000 Black people in Kentucky.
“We are gonna begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our black and African American communities. Everybody,” he said, according to WAVE 3 News. “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 continued.
As of this writing, Beshear doesn’t quite have a plan in place on how he’ll accomplish this feat, but he took time to acknowledge how access to quality health care plays a role in the considerable disparities between Black residents and others.
“Well, I believe that health care is a basic human right,” Beshear said. “And when I ran for governor, I made a pledge that we would sign every Kentuckian up for some form of health care coverage. But COVID-19 has laid bare what health care inequality results in, and that’s death. And so what I’ve tried to do is listen – listen to the demonstrations that are going on, listen to leaders in the black community. And what I’m hearing is a call for being a priority.
In regards to COVID-19, specifically, Kentucky has seen Black residents make up 16.5 percent of the state’s positive cases while only representing 8 percent of the state’s population, according to The Hill.
“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.”
As a first step, Beshear plans to reach out to Black communities to sign people up for private insurance or insurance through Medicare and Medicaid.
If what is currently a political promise becomes a reality, Kentucky could be the first state to take a major step towards providing Black residents with the help they need to improve their overall health and live longer, healthier lives.