MALONEY SPEAKS OUT DURING COVER THE UNINSURED WEEK

Mar 14, 2003
Press Release
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) was part of a panel discussion (along with Congressman Gregory Meeks, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Deputy Commissioner of Health Judy Arnold) sponsored by www.CoverTheUninsuredWeek.org , a coalition of 3 foundations (including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and16 major national organizations (including AARP, the American Hospital Association, the Business Roundtable and AFL-CIO). This broad coalition of organizations has united to raise public awareness about the extent of the problem of the uninsured.

Congresswoman Maloney acknowledged the growing problem, and raised the concern that actions taken by the current administration could make the problem worse. "Under the last Administration, there was a real effort to reduce the number of uninsured. We guaranteed portability of coverage with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and created the Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), a state and federal partnership designed to help children without health insurance who are living near the poverty line (but may not be eligible for Medicaid)."

Maloney continued, "By contrast, this Administration has abandoned efforts to find ways to cover the uninsured and is actually proposing changes to Medicaid that could substantially increase the number of uninsured. By turning Medicaid into a block grant, and providing an increase in funding that doesn't even begin to cover the States' shortfall, the Bush administration is guaranteeing that a portion of people who now have Medicaid coverage will be pushed out of the program. What's more, Medicaid is not a discretionary program but is an entitlement. If the Administration succeeds in turning it into a block grant, it will be substantially easier to cut."

Maloney explained that costs incurred by the uninsured create an enormous burden for the health care system. "We all pay for the uninsured. Hospitals and doctors provide care at no or reduced charge to people who lack insurance, and struggle to make up the shortfall. If we don't address this problem soon, the hospitals and clinics that serve as the safety nets for the uninsured will be overwhelmed, access to care will continue to shrink, and insurance premiums will be unaffordable."


Facts about the uninsured: One in seven Americans lacks health insurance (more than 41 million individuals or14.6% of the population). This represents an increase of 1.2 million since 2000. Whenever health care costs increase by one percentage point, a minimum of 300,000 individuals lose insurance. According to census data, in New York State, 4,977,000 individuals were uninsured, or 30.3% of the population under 65. One-third of the uninsured - 14 million uninsured children and adults - are eligible for existing government-sponsored program such as Medicaid and S-CHIP, but are not enrolled. Because the uninsured are more likely to delay seeking care, they are 70% more likely to be hospitalized than people with insurance for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, pneumonia and bleeding ulcers.

One in seven Americans lacks health insurance (more than 41 million individuals or14.6% of the population). This represents an increase of 1.2 million since 2000. Whenever health care costs increase by one percentage point, a minimum of 300,000 individuals lose insurance. According to census data, in New York State, 4,977,000 individuals were uninsured, or 30.3% of the population under 65. One-third of the uninsured - 14 million uninsured children and adults - are eligible for existing government-sponsored program such as Medicaid and S-CHIP, but are not enrolled. Because the uninsured are more likely to delay seeking care, they are 70% more likely to be hospitalized than people with insurance for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, pneumonia and bleeding ulcers.

Unfortunately, shifts in employment and increasing costs have meant that many working people lack insurance. Eighty percent of the uninsured are in working families. Twenty years ago, 85% of employers offered health insurance. Now only 62% do.

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