Democrats claim to be the party that champions black people and the issues that impact their communities the most. They speak about systemic racism almost endlessly. And they constantly point to discrepancies black people face in every area from our criminal justice system to our school system.
And the thing is, unlike many on the Right who inexplicably act like they just sat on a hornet and can’t see straight when they hear the word “racism,” I would agree with the Left on many of these talking points. But where I disagree is with the notion that Democrats are doing anything to fix these problems for the black community. Instead, their tired ideas typically involve more of the same things that created the issues in the first place (cough, it’s the government).
Don’t believe me? Look at our healthcare system.
Black people face many discrepancies when it comes to their health. According to Pew Research, “the most recent estimates from the US Census Bureau projects life expectancy at 71.8 years for non-Hispanic Black Americans, the lowest since 2000 and below that estimated for other racial and ethnic groups.”
Black people are keenly aware of the reason driving these outcomes.
“A majority of Black adults say less access to quality medical care where they live is a major reason why Black people in the U.S. generally have worse health outcomes than other adults,” Pew reported.
But here’s where we must pause and do some untangling. Why do they have less access to quality care?
In a free market, supply would rise to meet demand. If an area had a shortage of healthcare providers, those willing to move into it could charge a bit more than they could in dense urban areas, and also acquire a lower cost of living in the process. In other words, the healthcare providers would be incentivized to move to where the money is. There would be a financial incentive for existing providers to expand their operations, too.
But that isn’t happening in many parts of the US, and it’s predominantly due to a set of corrupt laws from the 1970s that were put into place specifically to limit the supply of healthcare providers: certificate of need laws (CON laws). Why would they do such a thing?
The sneaky little secret is that the government has been seeking to limit the supply of doctors, hospitals, and all kinds of other factors under the healthcare umbrella since the early 1900s for the purpose of keeping prices artificially high for special interest groups. (That would be the hospital associations, the American Medical Association, etc.)
The way CON laws work is that, if a provider wants to open a new facility or even add more beds to a unit, they have to go before a government-appointed board and argue for why the community “needs” it. And then, their competitors (usually the hospital associations) get to come in and argue against them.
These boards are of course filled with cozy industry insiders aligned with the associations, and in the long run they’re able to block millions of dollars in new healthcare investments. Essentially, the government has created monopolies in healthcare that limit your access to care and make the care you do receive much more expensive.
In places like Georgia, one of the many things CON laws block is the development of new birthing centers, hospitals with labor and delivery units, and even NICU units and beds. Ghastly.
The results are horrific. Georgia is one of the most deadly and dangerous places to give birth, with death rates shockingly high for a first-world country. Unsurprisingly, black neighborhoods and therefore black women are hit the hardest by these shortages.
In Randolph County, part of America’s Black Belt region (and covering 430 miles), there are no birthing centers, obstetric providers, or hospitals providing labor and delivery services. In fact, across Georgia, nearly half of the counties with predominantly black residents are maternity care deserts.
As I mentioned, black women are already three times more likely to die when pregnant and or giving birth than white women. But in Georgia, 66.6 black pregnant women die for every 100,000.
That is directly due to a government law that is limiting their access to care. If that isn’t “systemic racism” then I don’t know what is. And yet there isn’t a single Democrat currently signed onto the initiatives to repeal CON laws at the state level this year.
It’s time to get rid of these corrupt laws once and for all, across the board. But let’s be clear about who is working for the black community right now—it certainly is not the Left.
Hannah is a consultant for Americans for Prosperity, which works on these issues.