Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Who Pays These People to “Serve” in Congress?

Those expecting intelligent analysis and thoughtful strategies from our elected representatives continue to be disappointed. The latest Census numbers on poverty and health insurance just hit the newsstands. Poverty stayed the same at roughly 37 million people while the number of uninsured rose another 1.3 million to 46.6 million.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said immigrants are skewing the health insurance statistics. "As the Census Bureau's report (Tuesday) indicated, the group most likely to be without health insurance in America is, in fact, not American at all," Barton said. "Non-citizens swell the ranks of the uninsured dramatically when they arrive in America with hopes and dreams, but without insurance."

About a third of all immigrants - legal and illegal - were without health insurance last year, according to the Census Bureau's report. About 13.4 percent of people born in the U.S. had no health insurance.

What Joe failed to mention is the number of uninsured illegals increased by only 20,000 from 9,469,000 to 9,487,000 (see Table 8). This means 1.28 million or 98% of the increase in uninsureds came from red blooded American citizens. It appears not many of them arrived last year or the Census Bureau failed to count them. Either way, Joe looks uninformed.

While foreign born non citizens make up 20 percent of the uninsured, Congress has worked hard to insure this problem remains. Just last month Medicaid implemented rules restricting coverage to American citizens.

That leaves 80% of the uninsured full blooded Americans. What plans does Joe Barton have for them to get affordable health care coverage? None. His party’s signature strategy is for people to self insure for the first $1,000 to $10,000 using tax free dollars. Kansas farmer’s experience with such plans shows one third of under 65 farmers carrying significant medical debt.

So while Joe Barton points at the 20% claiming it to be the main factor, Republicans are going to shaft the 80% with more financial responsibility. As we know from last summer the Republican mantra is “You’re On Your Own!”

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