Elimination of Key Census Survey Would Prevent Important Studies on Poverty and the Uninsured
WASHINGTON, DC – The elimination of a key Census Bureau survey, as proposed by the Bush administration, would prevent the production of important studies on income and health insurance. One such eye-opening study was released Wednesday by The Commonwealth Fund, revealing that young adults are the fastest growing uninsured population in the United States. Utilizing existing data, the researchers were able to analyze the age of the uninsured, as well as the length of time they go without health insurance.
The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) was a main sources of this data, but it is slated for elimination in the FY07 Bush budget. For years, researchers from across the political spectrum have regarded the SIPP as a superior source of data on the uninsured. Without action from Congress, the nation’s only survey to track individuals’ health and income over the course of several years will be lost.
Upon the release of the Commonwealth Fund report, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), former ranking member of the House Census subcommittee, pointed out that government policy is aided by accurate statistics.
“Poverty and insurance coverage are major problems in this country, but how can we intelligently address those issues if we are kept in the dark about them?” asked Maloney, who has fought to save the SIPP. “Apparently, the Bush administration’s approach to dealing with poverty and health insurance is to learn as little about those problems as possible. But ‘out of sight out of mind’ doesn’t help the American people.”
The Commonwealth Fund confirmed that a significant part of their recent report, Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help (http://www.cmwf.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=374136), could not have been conducted without SIPP data.
“SIPP is the only federal survey that tracks the insurance coverage of the population over a four year period,” said Dr. Sara R. Collins, Senior Program Officer for The Commonwealth Fund. “This is very important for understanding the dynamics of insurance coverage and creating sound policy to address coverage gaps. If not for SIPP, we would not know, as we show in this issue brief on young adults, that nearly two-thirds of adults ages 19-23 experience a time uninsured over a four year period, that 22 percent are uninsured for two years or more, and that 6 percent are uninsured for the full four years. We would also not know that young adults who are in lower income households are both more likely to be uninsured over a four year period, and to remain uninsured for a longer period of time.”
In March, Maloney, the senior House Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee, joined with JEC ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and 69 other Senators and Members of Congress to ask the president to restore funding to the SIPP (http://maloney.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1102&Itemid=61).