The healthcare debate continues as our congress and senate ready themselves for spring break. Yesterday, attention was brought to the CEO’s of major insurance companies as protestor’s marched to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. and proceeded to proclaim a “citizens arrest” on insurance executives who had gathered there for a policy meeting. It was reported that more than 5,000 protestors were involved. The protest was relatively peaceful and there were no arrests. In California, locally, citizens ran a fax campaign, where local insurance companies were faxed wanted posters for their CEO’s.
Public option would impact private coverage
This flourish of citizen activity happened just prior to President Obama’s Wednesday trip to St. Louis to build steam for his insurance reform package, which is drawing heavy fire from both left and right. Many of his supporters will not support the bill unless it includes a Public Option. According to a CNN Poll, 61% of Americans favor the public option. Even the alternative of expanding Medicare to people 55 and over has been taken off the table. The idea of a Public Option has been met with avid contention by the Republicans. Judson Bergen with Fox News states that “…this [the public option] would lead to considerably cheaper premiums and could cause millions more people to leave private coverage.” Scott Stanzel, former deputy press secretary to President Bush, in a report for Fox News stated that “They [Republicans] essentially have to go silent on what the impacts of that public option could be.”
The numbers are rising
An associated press poll has found there is “widespread hunger for improvements to the healthcare system.” The White House “Numbers Campaign” has yet to interpret the significant numbers of people who die each year without insurance which, according to a report in the American Journal of Public Health has reached 45,000. Tuesday’s White House number was $1,115 which is the “average monthly premium for company sponsored health insurance.” Wednesday’s number is 8. According to Nancy-Ann DeParle of the White House Staff, the number is significant because “every minute 8 people are denied coverage” and “8 is the number of people hired by special interests to influence health reform for every member of congress.”
18% of Southern California without health insurance
Southern California in particular struggles with the health insurance issue because so many workers here are freelance and work project to project in the volatile film and entertainment industry. CNN reported on Paul Hannon, a freelance photographer, who at 45 died of a ruptured appendix because he did not have insurance. According to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 6.5 million people in California are without insurance. 80.2% of those uninsured are working. In February, involuntary part time workers increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million, with many losing their healthcare benefit. According to a report by Orange County City Data18% of those living in Orange County, California are without health insurance.
According to David Jones of The Oval Office, “The House will vote when – and if? – Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi determine they have enough support to actually pass a bill.” If 45,000 people are dying a year due to lack of coverage, that means approximately 123 people die every day. Every day congress stalls and contrives to diminish the potential of this reform 123 people die. Can we wait?
Note: This article erroneously referred to 15% of Orange County population being uninsured cited from an article reporting from The California Wellness Group. This has been corrected to site a study from the Orange County city data which reflects 18%.
For more information, see:
The Uninsured: A Closer Look
UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
Health Insurance Coverage for California Legislative Districts
Orange County, California