Action Sought on Uninsured

By Lindsay Friedrich

         One of three non-elderly Americans were without health insurance for part or all of 2001-2002 41 million Americans do not have health coverage and 8 of 10 of the uninsured are in working families. These are just a few of the staggering statistics from a report released March 5, 2003 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This release occurred during the beginning of Cover the Uninsured Week, a week dedicated to raising the awareness about the state of the nation’s uninsured and the difficulties these people face when trying to access health care. The campaign is co-chaired by former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, and includes co-sponsors from influential organizations across the country.

         To kick-off their participation in Cover the Uninsured Week Cleveland leaders gathered at the Free Clinic on Monday, March 10, 2003. Many officials present signed a Proclamation in support of the week, including Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, County Commissioners Jimmy Dimora, Tim McCormack and Peter Lawson Jones. Also signing the proclamation were Mayors and officials from cities throughout Cuyahoga County. State Representative Jim Trakas and State Senator Eric Fingerhut arrived in order to take the Proclamation to Columbus to receive more signatures.

         A slow economy and rising health costs lead to more Americans unable to obtain health care insurance. This is not only detrimental to these citizens, but society in general. Mayor Jane Campbell stated that asking the corporate world to shoulder the health care costs of employees is detrimental to their competitive edge in the world marketplace.

         This first days’ event at the Free Clinic also included a representative of the uninsured working population, Dewyatt Stanfield. Mr. Stanfield told his story, explaining how lack of insurance has impacted his family. Other speakers discussed the lack of fairness in coverage, and the impact this has on the society and economy as a whole.

         David Abbott, Executive Director of The George Gund Foundation said “For too long, the number of uninsured Americans has continued to rise by the millions, while the issue has remained low on the list of national priorities….We cannot let millions of Americans continue to live without health insurance.” The George Gund Foundation is one of the National sponsors of Cover the Uninsured Week. The conclusion of the day was that coverage is a right, not a privilege.

         Many other events were scheduled for the week of March 10-16, all focusing on bringing attention to the lack of health care coverage faced by so many Clevelanders.

  Copyright by the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio published April 2003 Issue 60