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Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday pledged to provide 100 percent healthcare coverage for all black residents of the state in the wake of the protests and rioting following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
“As I’ve been listening, and I’ve been trying to hear what those who’ve been given voice on inequality is saying it’s time for prioritization in black and African-American communities,” Beshear said during a press conference. “So we are gonna do that.”
“My commitment today is we are gonna begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in black and African-American communities, everybody,” the governor continued. “We’re gonna be putting dollars behind it. We’re going to have a multi-faceted campaign to do it.
“But it’s time, especially during COVID-19, when we see what happens when you don’t have coverage. We’re gonna make sure that everybody does,” he added.
Beshear added that he believes healthcare is “a basic human right” and that he ran on that platform. He also said that he wants all Kentuckians to have healthcare but he is starting that effort in the black community.
“In our healthcare system, the inequalities have been laid bare, have been exposed by this COVID-19 epidemic. And the results of inequality in healthcare have been shown: It’s death. By allowing this type of inequality to exist for as long as it has, we see African Americans dying at twice the rate that they make up of the population,” he added, according to the Washington Examiner.
“It simply can’t be allowed to continue any longer, 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,” he continued.
The governor said that state officials would begin identifying persons in the black community who are not covered under Medicare and Medicaid but qualify for coverage. As for those who don’t, Beshear said the state would work to fill gaps with some form of private coverage.
According to Kentucky.com, though only about 8 percent of Kentucky’s population is black, African-Americans in the state make up nearly 16 percent of all coronavirus cases and more than 16 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
At present, state officials estimate that around 20,000 blacks are uninsured, or about 5.8 percent of the black population. The state’s overall uninsured rate is around 5.6 percent, according to the 2018 American Community Survey.
And while there is a push to “defund the police,” Beshear said he is moving towards mandating more training for police officers in the state.
J. Michael Brown, the executive cabinet secretary to Beshear, said officers will be specifically trained on implicit bias, use of force, ethics, civil rights laws, emotional intelligence, and community relationships. Currently, the state trains all police officers with the exception of the Lexington Police Department and the Louisville Metro Police Department.
“While we don’t expect that we will be able to get 40 hours of in-person training for all of our officers this calendar year, we are committed to getting at least 8 hours of training for all of our officers this calendar year,” he said, according to Kentucky.com.
The commitment to add training for police officers was not enough for some, however, including Kate Miller, advocacy director for the Kentucky ACLU.
“There needs to be more than more training,” Miller said. “We like the idea of providing training to all, including law enforcement officers, but this definitely, definitely does not go far enough.”
As for Beshear’s healthcare pledge, it drew sharp reactions on social media, with many complaining that the act of providing healthcare coverage to one ethnic group only is itself racist, which some suggested that Beshear does not have the constitutional standing to follow through on his pledge.
Andy Beshear’s latest take on free healthcare for African Americans, I have two things. A. It’s racist against every other race in KY. B. He can’t do this and will blame it on the Republican legislator when in fact he just can’t legally do this.
— •kelsey• (@iamawildcat) June 9, 2020
Isn’t that racist? Kentucky governor vows to ‘prioritize’ free healthcare for African Americans https://t.co/erGYFLQ7v2
It’s illegal under international law to descriminate against your own citizens @AndyBeshearKY
— JaneWhittle #DontViolateOurFreedoms (@_Jane_Whittle) June 9, 2020
You liberals have lost your damn minds. Free healthcare for black people only? Defund police? (Theres a sinister agenda behind that proposal) you people are sick. Everything you guys do is nothing but an act for votes.
— Jacob Stoney (@JacobStoney7) June 9, 2020
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