September 23, 2009

Udall, Fellow Freshman Senators Highlight Cost of Inaction on Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, joined eight of his fellow freshman senators on the floor of the U.S. Senate today to highlight the high cost of inaction on health insurance reform.

"Health insurance reform is one of the defining challenges of our time. Every person in our country has a stake in what we do at this moment, in this place," Udall said. "And while there are a lot of proposals out there, there is one thing we know for sure: Maintaining the status quo is not an option."

As the Senate Finance Committee continued marking up legislation to reform health insurance, Udall spoke of the human, economic and societal costs of maintaining the health care status quo. Udall noted a new report released last week that found family health insurance premiums have already increased by about 5 percent in 2009, and over the past decade have gone up 131 percent.

Udall said failure to act on health insurance reform would mean:

  • The number of uninsured Americans would increase from more than 46 million in 2008 to more than 53 million in 2019. 
  • U.S. spending on health care would climb from almost $2.4 trillion in 2008 to almost $4.3 trillion in 2017. 
  • Insurance companies would continue to profit at the expense of America's health and America's pocketbooks.

"If we do nothing, if we maintain status quo, more Americans will be uninsured or under-insured. More Americans will become sick. More will die because of lack of care. And more families will experience financial ruin," Udall said. 

In New Mexico, nearly one-in-four residents lack health insurance, making it the second-highest uninsured state in the nation. During the last two years, 709,000 New Mexicans under age 65 went without health insurance for some time – which is 41.4 percent of the under 65 population. 

The other freshman senators participating in the floor remarks on health care reform were: Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Roland Burris (D-IL), and Kay Hagan (D-NC). 

To read the full speech: