The Obama administration’s top health care administrator invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in justifying the landmark health care reform law Friday.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, released a statement ahead of Monday’s holiday honoring the civil rights leader. She sought to parlay his legacy into vindicating President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation.
“Today, as we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we reflect on our own response to his call for justice,” Sebelius said in the statement. “‘Of all the forms of inequality,’ Dr. King said, ‘injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’”
King delivered that quote in an address at the 1966 convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, a coalition of health care professionals that aligned itself with the civil rights movement. Amid the health care reform debate, the King quote was used by liberal bloggers at The Huffington Post to support the law.
Indeed, those at the highest levels of government also sought to use King’s memory for the cause. In Obama’s address at a Washington, D.C. church honoring King in 2010, the president also invoked his legacy amid the health care debate, wanting to rally supporters to his side.
“As a department, we are committed to ensuring that all Americans achieve health equity by eliminating disparities and doing what we can to improve the health of all groups, including the poor and underserved,” Sebelius said. “One of the most important ways we are doing this is through our new health care law, the Affordable Care Act.”