Many people are asking me today, "What exactly does the health reform bill mean to me and my family?"
First of all, in 2006 there were approximately 52,200 St. Louis residents who were uninsured. I am certain that number has grown as a result of the recession. Of that number, 34,800 of them are Black Americans and 17,400 of them are White Americans. The City Budget dedicates $5 million annually to Connect Care to help cover the cost of the uninsured. The rest of us help cover the cost in the form of increased health care costs, insurance premiums and taxes. The City of St. Louis budget allocates approximately $36 million dollars to health insurance for City Employees.
Nationwide there are 22.8 million White Americans and 7.2 Black Americans uninsured.
In Missouri 8% of our citizens are uninsured and 37% are already receiving public coverage.
One in four (25%) persons under age 65 in Arizona, Florida and Texas and one in five (20%) persons under age 65 in Georgia and North Carolina are uninsured.
Most of the uninsured live in areas populated by predominately poor, rural, southern, white Americans.
The fastest growing income bracket for the uninsured is among Americans who earn between $25,000 and $75,000 annually.
The President’s Health Reform Bill will be implemented over several years and will be fully implemented by 2015. The legislation includes many important, immediately available policies that people will care about. Changes that will occur this year include: Dependent children can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26. Senior citizens will get more help paying for drugs in Medicare. People with health problems that left them uninsurable can qualify for coverage through a federal program. A ban is placed on lifetime limits on medical coverage. More oversight of premium increases will be implemented.Tax credits for small businesses who provide insurance coverage to their employees will be put in place.Stronger oversight of Medicaid and Medicare fraud will be implemented.
These are not costly measures and they will not increase federal spending but they will have an immediate impact on those who are uninsured and their ability to obtain coverage.
The life expectancy has increased and the quality of life for Seniors has improved over the past 50 years as a direct result of Medicare and Medicaid government run programs. These programs were fought just as hard during President Truman and President Johnson’s Presidencies. Many Congressman who had the courage to support those changes have been long forgotten but look what a difference it has made for our parents and grandparents! I am forever grateful to those Presidents and Congresses for their courage and compassion.
And I am forever grateful to President Obama and the Congressmen and Women who have supported this reform effort. Their leadership, courage and compassion will help all of us, through improved health, reach our God given potential to work hard for America and be the best that we can be as individuals and citizens of the greatest Country in the World!