Candidate Romney, Obamacare and unconscious bias

By Wayne Dawkins<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Mitt Romney visited the NAACP convention Wednesday and promised to get rid of “Obamacare” if elected president in four months. The polite crowd changed its mood and booed for 15 seconds.

The predominately African-American, middle class audience had good reason to balk: The health care system before reforms has been detrimental to Americans of color and the GOP presidential candidate promised to end programs that are in the audience’s interests. Health care is not the non-essential “free stuff” that Romney dismissed. The policy change will improve lives and over the long term boost the U.S. economy.

“We have a health care system that is the pride of world,” said David Williams, “but this report documents that the playing field is not even.” Williams, a Harvard University public health, sociology and African & African-American studies professor, referred to the report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Williams presented the findings last month at a panel, “Unconscious Bias: Consequences for Society and Health,” at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans.

Medical doctors are supposed to be objective, said Williams, yet peer-reviewed studies such as an Institute of Medicine study reported that, “Across virtually every therapeutic intervention, ranging from high-technology procedures to the most elementary forms of diagnostic and treatment interventions, minorities receive fewer procedures and poorer quality medical care than whites.” The institute's report adds, “Moreover, they persist in contexts such as Medicare and the Veterans Administration Health System, where differences in economic status and insurance coverage are minimized.”

Health care reform is leveling the playing field for all Americans regardless of color or income level, an Obama senior adviser told about 15 columnists at NABJ-New Orleans.

Romney, the former governor instituted health care in Massachusetts, is wrong, and his GOP colleagues have been irrational with rage since the Supreme Court ruled that so-called Obamacare was constitutionally sound.

It’s unintentionally funny for U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., to say his party this week tried for the 33rd time to repeal health care reform because the American people don’t want it.

Does Cantor mean the 9 percent of Americans who approve of Congress’ performance?

A note to NAACP delegates who feel slighted that President Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden as his stand-in Thursday. Obama is wisely spending his capital in battleground states.

In that “Unconscious Bias” report, Williams said research revealed that 85 percent of whites have open hearts but unconscious biases against Americans of color. The remaining 15 percent of whites were unrepentant racists. Obama has his work cut out for him.