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Friday, November 28, 2014
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Published: Friday, 3/14/2003

Covering the uninsured

As of 2001, about a million Michiganders and 40 million other Americans - in all 14.6 percent of the population - were without health insurance for all or part of the year. In Ohio, it's 1.25 million, 11.2 percent without insurance. In Lucas County, 50,000.

A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said four in five of those in the labor force had no insurance or had at least one parent with a job.

The United States is the only country in the western world in such a predicament, a country that doesn't assure its citizens basic medical care. As a result, people in serious need of treatment go without it and may die because they are too poor. We've made poverty a capital crime.

Consider the example of 19-year-old Nick Swinehart, a self-employed Michigan construction worker. He has a new baby daughter and a metastasized melanoma - a skin cancer that began as a mole. He did not have a doctor look at it early on because he said he couldn't afford it.

In Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick recently called for action to turn this situation around.

Even Michigan State Rep. Larry Julian, a Republican who chairs the House Insurance Committee, says there's been enough talk and that it is time to act.

There has been zero talk of solutions from Gov. Bob Taft and the General Assembly on this issue, and certainly no display of unity by the governor, Ohio's U.S. senators, and the mayors of the state's major cities.

This is despite the fact that uninsured women with breast cancer are twice as likely to die as insured women. Uninsured men are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed at a late and possibly fatal stage of colon cancer as insured men, and uninsured children in need of medical or surgical care are more likely to go without.

Worse yet from an economic viewpoint, uninsured are more than twice as likely to use the priciest venues of medical services - emergency rooms.

So what is Governor Taft doing in his budget cutting proposals? Leaving more people without medical insurance.

He would cut 10,000 people from disability assistance medical assistance, plus 50,000 parents from low-income families Medicaid, and cut dental, vision, chiropractic, and other services, as well as hours per week of nursing and daily living services, and more.

Where is the sense of enlightened self-interest in assuring a healthy populace? Where is the economic sense to know that medical care delayed often calls for more costly procedures, and a less happy outcome?



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