Obamacare’s Sad Racial Provisions

One of the problems with Obamacare is that both the House and Senate versions are larded with diversity-speak, including “underrepresented minorities” and “the underserved.” “Underrepresented minorities,” means “no Asians need apply” and maybe no middle-easterners either. The context is federal money for medical schools. As Joe Hicks pointed out on Pajamas media today, the proposed revision “Give[s] preferences to entities that have a demonstrated record of … training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds.”

This is a nudge—more like a shove, actually—in the direction of preferences. Is it constitutional to dole out money to benefit certain racial and ethnic groups, but not others? It doesn’t seem so, but of course the courts will decide. The final phrase “of disadvantaged backgrounds” is much less controversial than the rest of the sentence, and has likely been added to deter litigation. Linda Chavez, Roger Clegg and, in a close 4-3 vote, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have challenged the racial provision in the legislation.

Obamacare money for colleges is also aimed directly at predominately black and Hispanic schools. On its for-pay site, the Chronicle of Higher Education says: “The plan also includes $255-million a year to help historically black colleges, as outlined in the House bill. It includes $750-million over five years for College Access Challenge grants, which would support state efforts to enroll and graduate underrepresented students, down from $3-billion over 10 years in the earlier House version.”

Why has the legislation been written this way, and can it withstand constitutional scrutiny?


  • John Leo

    John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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9 thoughts on “Obamacare’s Sad Racial Provisions

  1. Dr. Shapiro-
    Oh, please. What would we benighted masses do without aging liberal white guys with self-righteous narcissism?

  2. Dr. Shapiro could it not be that one’s problem is not with the outcome but means to that end?
    It can be said that small Catholic liberal arts colleges in the north like Fordham and Manhattan in the Bronx, LaSalle in Philly, Loyola in Chicago and UD in Detroit
    “have a demonstrated record of … training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds.”
    Some might even go as far to say that they have a more extensive track record in achieving these results than many hbcu’s despite operating without many of the economic advantages offered to both “white” and “black” state funded schools.
    In light of that I think your critique bears weight if they are offered the monies that appear to be available but if these monies are not available then I think John’s concerns carry more weight.

  3. @ Dr. Shapiro: Sir, with all due respect, I could care less if my doctor is teal, purple or colorless. What I DO care about is the fact that the person who finishes dead last in medical school and on their boards is called: Doctor. If Blacks and Hispanics can get into Med School based on their merits then great. If they cannot, then let them work harder.
    I think that globalization will take care of a lot of our heath care issues. Let’s open the boarders to health care and allow doctors in India and eastern Europe with Western credentials to provide health care. I am tired of paying your malpractice insurance and markups.

  4. “Oh horrors John. What are you afraid of, that perhaps a few more blacks and Hispanics might actually be able to go to medical school?”
    No, but how about a few more blacks and Hispanics use what’s inside their craniums to get into ANY type of school as opposed to using the differences in the shade of their epidermis?
    It’s a shame that Whites can’t say that simple argument without being labeled racists. I’m Black, but everyone who are experts in this field knows that it isn’t skin color that is preventing people from getting into any type of school.

  5. What I want to know is why a bill that calls itself a “health care” bill is giving money to any colleges? What is this thing stuffed full of? Who are these hustlers trying to con?

  6. The legislation is written the way it is because Obama’s entire presidency has been about reparations….without actually calling it that.
    Those who are successful, according to Obama, are only successful because of advantages they have been given, never because of superior work ethic, intelligence and/or desire. Until outcomes are equalized, not opportunties, America will be in the eyes of Obama an unfair, racist and bigoted society.

  7. Appears we are quite a ways from judging a man on the content of his character instead of the color of his skin.
    And it appears we have reversed directions towards that end.

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