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|Saint Louis County, MO||August 5, 2008 Election|
By Steve BrownCandidate for State Representative; District 73; Democratic Party
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In Missouri today, an estimated 700,000 people, or roughly twelve percent, live without health insurance. Even with advances in medical technology, standard healthcare costs for every American have skyrocketed exponentially, forcing many Americans to drop their health insurance coverage or scale-down to bare-bones plans. The same is true here in Missouri. Uninsured and underinsured Missourians are excluded from certain medical services, charged more for emergency healthcare services, and die because the medical care they are able to receive is often too little too late. However, it is not only uninsured and underinsured citizens that experience hardships. The costs of unpaid medical care are passed on to those with health insurance. Staggering medical bills often leave patients with the difficult choice of forgoing needed care or facing the prospect of bankruptcy.
Moreover, businesses large and small are also experiencing hardships as insurance premiums have dramatically increased over the last seven years. Today, many business owners cannot afford to pay health insurance premiums, forcing them to move their businesses abroad, resulting in job-losses in the United States. Overall the healthcare insurance system in Missouri is corroding, and healthcare costs are rising too fast for the average consumer. As a result more and more citizens are unable to access affordable and adequate healthcare coverage.
We sometimes like to think that we in the United States have the greatest healthcare in the world. This may be true for the tiny percentage of Americans that can afford all the most cutting edge and expensive treatments. But for most Americans, our current system is failing. While the United States spends more than twice as much per capita than any other industrialized democratic nation on healthcare we rank 28th in life expectancy and 37th in infant mortality. And while other industrialized democratic countries provide healthcare to all of their citizens, over 48 million Americans go without healthcare due to lack of insurance.
Surveys show that the majority of Americans and Missourians realize that the current healthcare system is broken, but many in power are afraid to make significant change. Fortunately, positive change is coming at the state level. States like Massachusetts, Vermont, and California are in the process of revolutionizing their health insurance markets and expanding affordable coverage to all of their citizens. I want Missouri to learn from these models. By taking some ideas from here, some from there, and formulating a model that will work well in our state, we can fight to ensure that as many Missourians as possible are covered by a rational healthcare system.
The road to universal coverage will be long and arduous. The history of healthcare reform in this state (and nationwide) has seen many setbacks. But the people are coming around to change. As your State Representative I will be committed to leading that change - negotiating when it is the wisest course, but fighting tenaciously whenever significant gains can be made. This will be a long-term project. As some first steps along that road, I will be promoting the following policies:
Position Paper 3
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