WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described inequality in healthcare as the "most shocking and inhumane" form of injustice, a U.S. health official says.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said as America honors the life of King and his legacy of fighting for racial equality, human rights and economic justice, his words concerning inequality in healthcare still resonate because there is nothing more essential to obtaining the American dream than good health.
"A child who can't focus in school because of untreated asthma or a painful cavity is denied the opportunity to learn and realize his or her full potential. A parent who is unable to work because of untreated high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease is denied the opportunity to provide for his or her family," Sebelius said in a statement.
"The door of opportunity is closed when a family goes into bankruptcy to pay for a sick child's medical care. When a young adult has to give up a promising entrepreneurial dream because of the cost of health insurance, he or she is denied the opportunity to realize his or her full potential."
Without the security of affordable, quality health insurance, there is no economic security for the millions of Americans working hard every day to make ends meet, Sebelius said.
"Due to the Affordable Care Act, it's a new day in healthcare that is bringing new security and opening new doors of opportunity. Across the nation, millions of Americans are signing up for quality, affordable health insurance through the new health insurance marketplace," Sebelius said.
"Thanks to rights and protections guaranteed by the healthcare law, millions of individuals no longer have to worry about their coverage running out when they need it most. Insurers can no longer refuse to offer coverage because of a pre-existing condition, like high blood pressure, heart disease or asthma. And no woman can be charged more for coverage just because she's a woman."