Tuesday, August 28, 2007
(Washington, D.C.) – Congress and the administration should immediately rededicate themselves to expanding health insurance coverage in the U.S. in light of today’s Census Bureau numbers showing 2.2 million more people were without insurance in 2006 – including 700,000 more children, Consumers Union said.
“This substantial increase in the uninsured should get everyone’s attention,” said Gail Shearer, health policy director at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “We should not have to wait until the next president takes office to deal with this very real problem. Congress and the President ought to commit to expanding coverage now.”
For 2006, the Census Bureau reported that 47 million people were without health coverage, up from 44.8 million in the previous year. The number of children under 18 without health insurance increased to 8.7 million in 2006, from 8 million the previous year.
Both the House and Senate recently passed legislation to cover up to 6 million more lower-income children who are generally eligible for, but not currently enrolled in, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. President Bush has threatened in the past to veto the legislation, and the administration recently proposed new rules that would restrict the number of lower-income children states could enroll in the insurance program. A political fight on the children’s health insurance program is expected this fall.
“We strongly support increased funding for states to reduce the number of uninsured children,” Shearer said. “Expanding the children’s health insurance program is the down payment we must make this year towards covering all Americans.”
A recent national survey by Consumer Reports National Research Center also found a growing number of “underinsured” Americans – those with coverage so meager they postpone medical care because of costs.
The report in the September issue of Consumer Reports finds that 29 percent of people with health insurance are actually underinsured, and that 40 percent of the population aged 18-64 has inadequate access to healthcare. The free articles can be found at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health-fitness/health-care/health-care-insurance/index.htm