Census Uninsured Data

NCHC Writer
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The following statement was released today by Henry E. Simmons, M.D., M.P.H., president of the National Coalition on Health Care:

“The U.S. Census Bureau today released data that show that the number of uninsured in this country dropped last year from 44.3 million to 42.6 million, a decrease of 1.7 million.

“Our concern, however, is that this rate of decrease may be a one-time phenomenon, and will not continue if and when the country experiences an economic downturn or if the cost of health insurance continues to rise at the current rates (which are averaging 9% to 14% annually.) In addition, we still have more than 42 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Where are the proposals and programs that are going to provide those people with health insurance? And if we are able to reduce those who are uninsured by a similar number each year, how long will it take before all Americans have health insurance that will enable them to obtain quality, affordable health care?

“The issue of the uninsured is not only an economic one, but also a moral and ethical one. In a country as rich as ours, how can we justify leaving millions of Americans without health insurance and with its attendant consequences? Is this 1.7 million decrease in the uninsured as good as it gets? How many uninsured are too many?

“Many children became uninsured when welfare reform removed their families’ eligibility for Medicaid. Federal and state agencies and many private groups have worked very hard to see that those children who were still eligible for Medicaid or for the Children Health Insurance Program were enrolled in those programs. That has increased the number of children with health insurance, and we applaud those efforts. In addition, in the extraordinary economy we have experienced over the past several years, with its increased profits and tighter job markets, more employers have offered health insurance to their employees. This, too, has helped reduce the number of uninsured, particularly among low income workers.”

The National Coalition is the nation’s largest, most broadly representative alliance working to improve America’s health care system. Its members include large and small businesses, unions, consumer, provider and religious groups. Its Honorary Co-Chairs are former Presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford. Former Governor Robert D. Ray (R-IA) and Former Congressman Paul G. Rogers (D-FL) serve as Co-Chairs of the Coalition.