Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee: Why We Cannot Wait For Health Care Reform ; Press Conference With The Congressional Black Caucus
The time has come to expand health coverage to 32 million Americans who cannot wait any longer. The health insurance reform legislation that the House of Representatives is going to approve this weekend for the American people will cover 95 percent of all Americans and improve the quality of life for millions of people -- men, women, and children who have gone without medical care for far too long.
This historic legislation bars insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions. It invests substantially in Community Health Centers to expand health care in communities where it is most needed. It expands eligibility for Medicaid to include all non-elderly Americans with incomes below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or about $29,000 for a family of four. It maintains current funding levels for the Children's Heath Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for needy youngsters. It does all of this while controlling costs and reducing the deficit.
This historic bill is particularly important for minorities and women -- who have gone without health care coverage for too long. In 2007, only 49 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 66 percent of non-Hispanic whites used employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. During the same year, 19.5 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured.
Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group within the United States. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that private insurance coverage among Hispanic subgroups varied as follows: 39.1 percent of Mexicans, 47.3 percent of Puerto Ricans, 57.9 percent of Cubans, and 45.1 percent of other Hispanic and Latino groups.
Health care reform also is critical to ensure that women have access to affordable health care coverage. An estimated 64 million women do not have adequate health insurance coverage. About 1.7 million women have lost their health insurance coverage since the beginning of the economic downturn. Nearly two-thirds lost coverage because of their spouse's job loss. And nearly 39 percent of all low-income women lack health insurance coverage. Women also are more likely to deplete their savings accounts paying medical bills than men because they are more likely to be poor. This bill gives women access to the health care that they need and deserve.
The American people have waited too long for affordable health care. The time to act is now!