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Healthcare Debate Zeros in on Cost

July 20, 2009

LAS VEGAS – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stole the spotlight in the nation's health care debate with a report saying none of the health care plans being debated would slow the growth of health spending. However, some health experts say, the report misses the big picture.

Nancy Whitman with Nevada Covering Kids and Families says President Obama's plan would extend health care to 45 million Americans - including many seniors, people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions - who cannot afford or qualify for insurance. She says the CBO report fails to take into account that consumers of health coverage already are bearing those costs. She say the average individual is paying $1,300 a year to care for the uninsured.

"We are already paying for it; premiums have gone up 119 percent because of those that are uninsured. And with unemployment rate in Nevada being at 12 percent, my guess is the majority of those people are uninsured."

The Congressional Budget Office says the proposed reform measures could actually increase health spending. President Obama fired back on Saturday saying he would not sign onto any health plan that would run up the federal deficit.

Whitman says the real choice is whether we keep paying higher premiums to insurance companies, or pay for a government plan that aims to control costs.

According to Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, 450 Nevadans are losing health coverage every week. He says many employers are forced to pass on some of the increased costs to their employees, while others no longer offer insurance at all, because it has become too expensive.

"With each passing week, more and more Americans are losing their health coverage. Even those people who have not lost insurance are beginning to understand that the rising tide of premiums threatens them and their families."

President Obama may relax his deadline to get health care reform passed by August, but he says the need is urgent, adding, "If we do not get this done now, no one's health insurance is going to be secure."

More information is available at www.familiesusa.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV