This week, the House prepares to vote again on President Obama’s landmark health care legislation. Republicans aligned with the special interest of the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations are pouring millions into undermining what should be a basic right for all Americans. Reverend Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, outlined five reasons why we need to pass this historic health care legislation:
1. It's the morally right thing to do. Nearly 50 million Americans are without health insurance, more than any other industrialized nation. Nearly 20% of African Americans and over 30% of Latinos are uninsured. Nearly 14 million children in the United States – 19% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, nearly 7 million without health care insurance. That’s a moral disgrace for the most advanced nation in the world.
2. Comprehensive health insurance will make health care more affordable and more accessible for more people. Today 17% of GDP is spent on health care related activities, $2.6 trillion, and will rise to 20% by 2017. The Congressional Budget Office said, “…the high and rising costs for health care in this country imposes an increasing burden on individuals, businesses, states, and the federal government, and a substantial number of people may have trouble paying for that care because they do not have health insurance. Rising costs for health care make health insurance policies more expensive and thus more difficult to afford.”
3. High infant mortality to short life expectancy, health care insurance saves lives. The number one cause driving families into bankruptcy are devastating catastrophic health care costs. We need comprehensive health care legislation to save families and save lives. Comprehensive health care insurance will be a life saving measure that benefits all Americans.
4. Those that have national health care insurance shouldn't deny it to those that don't. Members of Congress receive comprehensive health care benefits – but the Republican right demonizes the health care they receive as “socialist” and are seeking to deny the same health care insurance to millions of Americans. That is hypocrisy of the first order.
5. Comprehensive health care insurance will check the health care industry’s monopoly, and put a check on the soaring costs of health care insurance and health care. Last month’s decision by Anthem Blue Cross to increase health insurance premiums by as high as 39 percent for as many as 800,000 Californians is unconscionable, and underscores the need for health care legislation that makes health care insurance affordable and accessible for America’s working families.
The health care legislation being considered is the first step in a long battle. It does not, unfortunately, contain the “public option.” It’s not all we want, but it’s more than what we have now. These provisions must be addressed in due time. But this battle must be fought, fought now, and won.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366