47 million too many uninsured
March 31, 2009
By Steve Kagen
Green Bay Press Gazette
Last week was Cover the Uninsured Week, a national effort to remind all of us that too many citizens do not have access to health care at prices they can afford.
Those of you who are without health insurance, and the many dedicated people who are fighting for you, should know that your cries for help are not falling on deaf ears.
I am working hard to secure access to affordable care for all of us, and I have refused to accept the government-sponsored health-care benefits offered to me as a member of Congress until everyone I represent — and the 47 million Americans who are also uninsured — have the same offer made to them.
Health care is our nation’s greatest economic challenge. Costs for care are the largest overhead expense for every family, every small business, and government at every level — and we will be unable to balance our budgets at home or in government until we achieve meaningful reforms.
Keeping people healthy will make our economy healthy, and when we reduce costs for health care, we keep more money in your pockets, reduce taxes, and allow small businesses to create the jobs we need to work our way out of today’s recession.
I am confident that help is on the way. The president’s proposed budget makes a significant down payment on health-care reform. President Obama has made it clear that health care reform is essential to building a better future for all of us.
Several weeks ago, I reintroduced the No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act (H.R. 1092), which would bring an end to the discriminatory practice of allowing insurance companies to deny life-saving medical coverage to citizens with pre-existing medical conditions.
Our Constitution protects all citizens against discrimination, and it is time to apply our hard-won civil rights to the health-care industry. If you are a citizen, you should be in the health-care system. And if it is in your body, it should be covered.
As a physician, I’ve seen the devastating impact illnesses have on families without coverage. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Turning down my taxpayer-funded health insurance may have been a simple gesture, but it reflects my commitment to securing access to care for every citizen.
We must declare an end to discrimination in health care and recommit ourselves to the essential ideal that no one — rich or poor, young or old, anywhere in these United States — should be denied access to affordable care.
Please join me and the other 47 million uninsured citizens in this effort.
Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, represents the 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.