Thursday, August 28, 2008

SEIU and Families USA Hold Healthcare Forum at DNC

Healthcare is the topic of the week at the DNC and events throughout Denver. Every time a speaker mentions health care coverage for all Americans, the crowd erupts in approval. It's pretty obvious that the activists who make up the crowds want to make this topic number one.

I've counted at least a dozen separate events, all of them advocating for universal coverage. Some of the events are advocating for single payer as the only solution, but the vast majority of the events are for a starategy that calls for universal coverage without specifying what that means.

The SEIU/Families USA event was a star-studded affair that included Senator Clinton, Tom Daschle, Speaker Pelosi, Governor Ed Rendell and many other elected officials.

Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA provided us with the most recent statistics on healthcare which were just released on tuesday. The new number of uninsured according to the US Census Bureau is 45.7 million in 2007, which is down slightly from 2006. That number is still the equivalent of the total population of 24 states plus DC. The drop in uninsured is a little deceptive, though, according to Poolack. Emlpoyer provided health coverage dropped to 59.3% in the same period.

So why are there fewer uninsured? More government provided health coverage. From 2006 to 2007 there were 1.3 million more enrolled in CHIP and Medicaid, 1 million more in Medicare and more people covered by military health care. together, there were over 2.7 million more covered by governmental programs in 2007.

And one needs to remember that in 2000 there were 38.4 million uninsured according to the Census Bureau.

All of the speakers encouraged the attendees to support Obama for president and to work for Democratic majorities in Congress and the Statehouses. They also urged the activists to stay engaged after the election. As Rep. John Dingell put is, "The number of our opponents has decreased, but their viciousness has intensified."

Kansas Governor Kathleen sibelius reminded the audience that the 16 cents of every helathcare dollar goes to paying for the uninsured and an additional 33 cents goes to paperwork.

The best line of the day was delivered by 13 year old Graham Frost from Baltimore. You may remember Graham from last year's S-CHIP debates. Graham gave a Staurday Morning Democratic radio message, talking about his familiy's healthcare problems following a near-fatal car crash involving him and his sister. Both suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries so severe that both he and his sister had to learn to walk, talk and eat. Graham said that if it were not for CHIP, he wouldn't be in Denver today.

He closed by saying, "If someone needs healthcare, like me and my sister did, they should get it. Not as a privilege, but as a right."

More photos, click here
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
Families USA

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