With Congress and the Obama administration discussing how to reform the nation’s health care system, a new report looks at what has happened since the last significant reform effort ended in 1994 without any comprehensive congressional action. The analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) documents the deteriorating scenario unfolding since then:
“The case for reform couldn’t be clearer,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Further inaction means that costs rise, businesses struggle, and workers go without. As high as the numbers of uninsured people seem to be, they don’t even reflect the current crisis with millions of Americans losing their jobs, which puts their insurance status in jeopardy. And the more people who become uninsured, the harder it is on our health care system.”
The report— At the Brink: Trends in America’s Uninsured 1994-2007—chronicles state-by-state health coverage trends. Over the last 15 years, nearly every state has seen increased numbers of uninsured residents, greater costs for workers while their incomes are flat, and significant erosion of private coverage. The report was prepared by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota. Researchers averaged data from the U.S. Census Bureau from 1994-1996 and compared it with average figures from 2006-2007. The report shows:
“The rising cost of health care has largely been borne by workers who are not getting raises because of it and employers who are seeing these costs eat into their profit margins,” said Lavizzo-Mourey. “Fixing our broken health care system is a critical part of fixing the economy, but it will not happen overnight and it won’t be easy. Fortunately, a lot of people are working together this time—government and business, doctors and patients, Democrats and Republicans—so that we can achieve real reform. When all Americans have access to affordable health care, everyone will benefit.”
The report is being released during Cover the Uninsured Week, a nonpartisan campaign organized by RWJF to advocate for health coverage for all Americans. Now in its seventh year, Cover the Uninsured Week (March 22-28) has become the largest, nonpartisan mobilization in history seeking solutions for the millions of Americans who are uninsured. Thousands of people will participate in Cover the Uninsured Week events held across the nation. To learn more, log on to www.CoverTheUninsured.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundationfocuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.