In 2016, the New York Times reported on how some of Obamacare’s main benefactors were low-income people of color and immigrants who gained coverage and became healthier as a result. So, it should come as no surprise that the group of Obamacare “victims” standing behind President Donald Trump as he talked about the ghastly horrors of receiving coverage at a press conference, was predominantly white.
Despite exposing his complete ignorance on the topic of health insurance and affordability in recent interviews, Trump has been at Republicans’ throats with confusing demands — repeal and worry about replacing later; repeal and replace NOW; and so on and so forth.
In a Monday morning tweet ahead of the press conference, Trump said, “Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on Repeal & Replace after years of talking & campaigning on it.”
Republicans have a last chance to do the right thing on Repeal & Replace after years of talking & campaigning on it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Of course, this ignores the political reality that there simply isn’t enough support for this to be possible, and that’s largely because too many Americans rely on the Affordable Care Act to not die of watch their children die.
And, of course, it’s disproportionately poor people and minorities who would suffer most, which might have something to do with why none were present to stand behind Trump at his bizarre, ill-informed anti-Obamacare tirade on Monday.
Under the ACA, 7.2 percent more Hispanics, 6.1 percent more Native Americans, 5.1 percent more African Americans, and 5.4 percent more Asians have health insurance since the act was passed. The minority groups and immigrants who experienced increases in healthcare coverage were disproportionately low-wage workers, further demonstrating how Obamacare has served to address racism and classism spanning back generations.
Who has the ability to lead healthy, dignified lives is determined by a barrage of intersectional identity-based characteristics like race and class, and even sexual orientation and gender identity. People of marginalized identity groups face discrimination or are more likely to be unable to afford often life-saving health care, and while imperfect, the Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction of making health care accessible to all.
And, of course, the dialogue around Obamacare and race is even more far-reaching. Disdain for Obamacare but approval among rural Americans for the “Affordable Care Act” speaks widely to racial hatred of President Obama and dismantling every aspect of the legacy of America’s first Black president. It matters that one in three Americans don’t know that Obamacare and the ACA are the same thing, and it matters that at the core of Republican ideology for the past almost decade has been demonization and the promise of tearing apart Obamacare, the cornerstone of President Obama’s legacy.
In the same way President Trump’s rhetoric about “making America great again” forgets how, for millions of black, Latino, and Asian Americans, for women, for trans people, for the LGBTQ community at large, life in America has never been better than it is now, his rhetoric about how Obamacare has purportedly ruined lives forgets how the ACA has saved the lives of thousands of poor people and immigrants.
The glorious 1950s era that Trump supporters are constantly romanticizing was a hotbed for discrimination, sexism, and rabid, violent intolerance for just about everyone but straight, white, Christian males. And in the same vein, the oh-so glorious pre-Obamacare era that Trump and his base keep referencing was a time when thousands of low-income immigrants and minorities died and watched their children and loved ones die because they couldn’t afford health care.
You can watch Trump’s full remarks at the press event, below.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.