Support for securing health insurance for all Americans

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A diverse group of local organizations has come together to demonstrate its support for securing health insurance for all Americans, including the nearly 44 million uninsured Americans, among them 400,000 in Tampa Bay.

These organizations are planning a series of events in Tampa Bay leading up to and during Cover the Uninsured Week, the largest ongoing effort in support of securing health care coverage for every man, woman and child in the United States. "Our organizations focus on several issues and represent many different interests, but on this issue, we speak with one voice," said Jeff Hochberg, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Alliance. "All of us are committed to finding solutions for everyone who is without health insurance today and who may be at risk for losing it in the future. We can let tens of millions of people live without health care coverage, or we can speak up and say that something must be done."

Working with the Tampa Bay Alliance, Cover the Uninsured Week, May 10-16, is being recognized in Tampa Bay by a broad coalition of local organizations including the Partnership For a Healthy Pinellas, Tampa Bay HealthCare Collaborative, University of South Florida Health Sciences Center, Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Tampa Bay Cares - Health Net 211, BayCare Health System, We Care Services and others. Nationally, the nonpartisan effort is co-chaired by former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

The campaign's national spokesperson is Noah Wyle, star of TV's "ER." Tampa Bay's effort will kick off at a news conference on Monday, May 10. Activities planned for Tampa Bay include health screenings and resource fairs in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, a Community Health Care Education Forum in Tampa, youth medical screenings at the University of South Florida, and a press event featuring research on the issue of the uninsured. "These events are designed to focus attention on this very serious challenge facing our country," stated Hochberg. "Uninsured Americans live sicker and die younger than those who have insurance, and that is unacceptable in a nation as great as ours. Everyone in our community needs to know about this issue and engage in a discussion about solutions. If we do nothing, the problem will only get worse."

According to the most recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2002 nearly 44 million people in the U.S. were uninsured, including 8.5 million children. In 2002, the number of people without health coverage grew by more than 2 million -- the largest one-year increase in a decade. Eight out of 10 uninsured Americans are in working families. The consequences of being uninsured can be devastating.

Research shows that women with breast cancer who do not have health insurance have a 30 to 50 percent higher risk of dying than those with private coverage. Uninsured patients with colorectal cancer are about 50 percent more likely to die than patients with private coverage, even when the cancer is diagnosed at similar stages.

The Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 adults in America die each year because they are uninsured. Cover the Uninsured Week in Tampa Bay is funded primarily by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans.

In addition, The California Endowment and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are providing significant funds for events throughout the nation. "The unacceptably high number of uninsured Americans, a majority of them in working families, means that Americans from every walk of life and point of view can and must work very hard to guarantee that all Americans have the health care coverage they need," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We know all too well that people who are uninsured are often forced to delay care and suffer with illness, and the health and financial consequences can be devastating."

Events in Tampa Bay are similar to hundreds of others being planned in communities across the United States as part of Cover the Uninsured Week. A complete listing of events in Tampa Bay and around the country is available at:


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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