Surprise Issue of this Election? Health Care

The polls and media are trumpeting American voters’ disatisfaction with Iraq as the big issue of this election. Americans for Health Care has a new survey Health Care in the 2006 Elections indicating “health care” and “prescription drugs” were tied with Iraq in importance. The number one issue at 34% in the poll conducted by Lake Research Partners was “economy and jobs”.

Americans for Health Care has been supporting health care candidates in the race, including Ed Perlmutter in my own CO 7 district. Certainly I see this issue as a priority every day I go to work.

The highlights that underscore how differently the electorate thought this year than in 2004.

· Rising health care costs was the most intense economic concern of voters (29 percent).

· Health care has increased in salience since 2004, with 47 percent saying it was the most or one for the most important issues in making their vote for Congress, compared to 32 percent in 2004.

· Sixty-six (66) percent thought health care was discussed too little by the candidates.

· Seventy-four (74) percent of voters think health care should be a high priority for the new Congress.

Sad statistics from the Americans for Health Care home page:

8.3 million – The number of children in America who have no health care.
1 minute – The amount of time it takes for nearly 3 people to lose their health insurance in the U.S.
46,600,000 – The number of uninsured in America in 2005.
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

How large is 46.6 million?

More than all Americans age 65 and older (35.9 million).
More than all African Americans (37.1 million).
More than all Hispanic or Latino Americans (39.9 million).

45 million uninsured Americans is…
Nearly five times more than the number of Americans living with cancer (9.2 million in 2001)
2.5 times higher than the number of Americans with diabetes (18.2 million in 2002)
7 million more people than those living with HIV throughout the world (38 million)

There are…
Nearly 150 uninsured Americans for each physician in America
Nearly 7,500 uninsured Americans for each hospital in America
Over 84,000 uninsured Americans for each Member of Congress

45 million uninsured Americans is about the same number of Americans living in…
West coast states (45.2 million in California, Oregon and Washington)
Middle America (44.7 million in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming)
Northeastern states (42.0 million in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont)
(Source: Center for American Progress)

The first thing I thought when the first tower fell on 9/11/01 was “There goes getting Universal Health Care”. There really is no way around this. In the long run we will spend far more from a broken system than getting access to health care to everyone.

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