KEY POINTS

  • Gov. Andy Beshear plans to provide 100% healthcare cover for African Americans in Kentucky
  • He will set up health insurance connectors to ensure "every single black Kentuckian" will be covered
  • About 16.5% of African Americans account for COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced in a press briefing Monday (June 8) that his administration is drawing up plans to absorb 100% of the healthcare coverage for the state's African American residents.

The governor said that he wants to make up for the severe inequality faced by black Americans, especially since health is a "basic human right."

Public health statistics show that 16.5% of Kentucky's COVID-19 deaths have been African-Americans. However, data from the census shows that the state's total African American population is only 8.4% of its 4.46 million residents as of 2019.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, about 20,000 or 5.8% of African Americans in Kentucky are uninsured. But the overall uninsured rate for the state is 5.6%.

"We are gonna begin an effort to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our black and African American communities," the governor said in his statement. "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.”

Beshear plans to establish “health insurance connectors" to assist African American residents in applying for either private insurance or federal insurance via Medicare or Medicaid. The system will follow a similar strategy the state used during the launching of the Affordable Care Act. However, the connectors will have to ensure that "every single black Kentuckian" will be covered by health insurance.

The governor's plans will still need more clarity on the timeline and implementation. Guidelines might also have to be outlined as some residents do not qualify for federal insurance.

Beshear's plans might also be challenged legally under the U.S. civil rights laws, which prohibits racial preference as much as racial bias. Someone who also lacks insurance coverage could file a discrimination complaint against the state for prioritizing a certain group.