Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Report: 14,000 Americans Losing Health Coverage Daily

By Anne L. Kim, CQ Staff


February 19, 2009 -- The left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund released a report Thursday calling for health care overhaul to address increasing numbers of people losing insurance coverage and to stimulate the economy.

Growing unemployment has led to an estimated 14,000 people losing their health insurance daily, according to the report titled "Health Care in Crisis: 14,000 Losing Coverage a Day."

"This is what we can expect as long as the job market remains in crisis," said Judy Feder, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The report expressed support of recent legislation, including the economic recovery package and the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"But we can't stop here," Feder said. "We've got to go the rest of the way to cover everybody."

But health care overhaul is important because without it, costs to government, taxpayers, families and businesses will grow, said Richard Kirsch, national campaign director for Health Care for America Now, a coalition of organizations of which the Center for American Progress Action Fund is a member.

"Unless we get everyone covered, we're going to have a tremendous amount of waste in this system," Feder said.

People are sicker than they need to be and "the whole economy suffers," she said.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund also reported that compared with many other industrialized countries like the United Kingdom and Japan, the United States spends twice as much per capita on health care. It also estimated that $650 billion of the slightly more than $2 trillion in annual health care spending may not effectively improve care.

The report also cited numbers from the Congressional Budget Office estimating that while Medicare and Medicaid spending is currently approximately 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, the percentage is expected to rise to 19 percent by 2082.

Kirsch said he anticipates arguments that the country currently can't afford to pay for health care overhaul with an economic stimulus package already enacted.

"That kind of thinking is the same kind of pennywise, pound foolish thinking that got us into this current mess," he said.

The current health care system will bankrupt our economy, Kirsch said.

The report also advocated for expanding health care coverage as a way to stimulate the economy.

"Providing additional Medicaid funding to states is consistently rated one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy," according to the report. "CHIP funds can boost the economy quickly because states already have programs in place."

President Obama is slated to deliver his first budget address next week and Kirsch said he hopes to hear about major investments in health care.

But those investments worry analysts like Dennis G. Smith of the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. Smith, who directed the federal Medicaid program under the Bush administration, said in a Feb. 12 analysis that "many Americans who have private health insurance will lose their coverage if major health care policy proposals advanced" by Obama and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., become law.

While Obama has said those with private coverage can keep it, he, along with Baucus, "has coupled these assurances with a counterproductive proposal for a new public health plan to compete directly with private-sector plans in a national health insurance exchange," Smith wrote, adding that "such a provision would displace the private health coverage of millions of Americans."

Obama and Baucus also would expand existing government programs, Smith added. "Given the inevitable dynamics of such program expansions, assurances to Americans that they would be able to keep their private health coverage are meaningless. Their employers would have powerful incentives to dump them into public coverage." Smith also asserted that the Obama and Baucus proposals "directly undermine the historic accomplishments of the 1990s welfare reform, was designed to get Americans off of dependence on government programs."

Publication Details