While most in Pittsburgh’s African-American community have voiced support for the health care bill signed into law on March 24, some still have differences of opinions. There are many who wish the bill had included sharper reforms and some who are still unaware of how the bill will actually affect them.

FREE RIDE?—Newly signed national health care legislation promises coverage to the uninsured. But some caution the mandate to buy insurance is too weak to force compliance, and the result will be higher costs.

“I am definitely for the health care reform bill,” said Branden Ballard. “As the richest nation in the world, it is about time that those who are most vulnerable, children and the elderly, have complete access to health care regardless of their situations.”

Many of those who’ve supported the bill from the beginning and others who have supported the cause before President Barack Obama took office view health care as a human right.

“If the U.S. is going to be the world leader, then it needs to lead by example, striving to end things like war and hunger,” said Royal Mayo. “It needs to start at home; health care needs to be a given like the education of our children. Thanks, Obama; time will prove that you are on the right side of history,”

“We as Americans, with all our wealth, have so many helpless people that live below the poverty level that deserve to have health care,” said Louie Bates. “It is about time that America steps into the 21st century and help as many that wants to be helped. To hell with these right-wingers crying ‘socialism.’ So what? Human dignity is worth more than the label that a country wants on it as the legacy to its future.”

Like others, Riley would’ve liked to see the bill go further, including more reform to reduce costs. There are also many who are disappointed that the bill didn’t include a single-payer system or public option.

“We needed ‘health care reform’ and I’m supporting President Obama and cheering the victory,” said Bates. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.”

“(I’m) not as pleased as I would be with a single-payer or a public option, but it’s better than what we had,” said David Riley.

Another segment of the community, although in support of the efforts by President Obama, remains unsure of how the bill will impact them.

“For as much as I know I am for it. I’m in school right now; although I get benefits from my school, I am one of those who would benefit,” said Kiva Fisher-Green. “For those in transition it would be very beneficial and for me having children they can stay on it until they’re 26.”

Beyond opinions about how the new law would affect them, many people were outraged by attacks of some Republicans not only against the president and other members of Congress but also on American citizens. In particular, many referenced House Republican leader John Boehner who said, “Health care is not a right, it’s a privilege for those who earn an honest living. If you gangbang and listen to rap all day you don’t deserve it.”

“What about the people who work and earn that honest living but still can’t afford health care because they are struggling to get by and the honest living that they do make is not enough?” said Kyra Taylor. “And I know people who make that ‘honest living’ who get denied. This is just another way to keep poor people poor and rich people rich.”

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