GOP clueless about plight of the uninsured

Letter to the Editor
Indianapolis Star, Sept. 30, 2010

Thank you for the review of the Republican Party's thinking on health-care reform (The Star, Sept. 20). That the party is clueless about the severity of the problem could not be more obvious. While it proposes repeal or non-funding of the health-care reform act, tinkering with the tax system and creating a voucher system to replace Medicare, the facts on the ground are rapidly deteriorating.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of uninsured rose by more than 4 million in 2009 to greater than 50 million nationwide. In Indiana, there are currently more than 900,000 uninsured, 14.2 percent of the population, including from 30 to 40 percent of those ages 21 to 26. A failing employer-based system now covers only 55.8 percent of the population, down from 64.2 percent in 2000.

Although far from perfect, the health-care reform act has implemented immediate steps to help alleviate the problem of the uninsured and its resulting excess morbidity and mortality. Now, those younger than 26 may stay on their parents' insurance, children may not be excluded from family policies for pre-existing conditions, and tax credits to offset premium expenses will begin for small business.

These measures and those to be implemented later will not solve the country's health-care problem. That must come eventually in the form of a tax-funded, federally guaranteed, privately delivered program, an expanded, improved, cost-effective Medicare for all.

Christopher Stack, M.D.