Center for American Progress Distinguished Senior Fellow Sen. Tom Daschle and Senior Fellow Jeanne Lambrew testify today before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in a hearing titled “Living Without Health Insurance: Why Every American Needs Coverage.”
Lack of health insurance is a problem affecting roughly 45 million people in the United States—nearly one out of every six Americans. An additional 16 million people are under-insured, meaning they have health coverage but do not have adequate protection against health care costs. Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that everyone has health care, and the momentum for universal coverage continues to build.
Sen. Daschle argues that health care is the most important domestic policy issue, and affects not just our health but also our security and ability to compete in the global marketplace.
Recent successes to institute incremental reforms, including SCHIP, mental health parity, and genetic non-discrimination, have been important. But the failing system requires a more comprehensive overhaul. Daschle addresses the myths that pose obstacles to comprehensive reform and argues that a successful strategy will require new leadership, including the involvement of business and a new framework that allows for private delivery in a public system.
Lambrew argues that there is a consensus emerging on how universal health coverage can be achieved. This includes recognizing that we must make coverage affordable and aim to improve coverage, not just expand it. Ensuring health care for all Americans will require building leadership; blocking policies that represent steps backward; laying the groundwork for reform by investing in cost-saving information technology and focusing on preventive care; and re-authorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance program, which has successfully reduced the number of uninsured children.
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