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Sep-16-2009 10:59printcomments

Feds Say Health Insurance Reform Cannot Wait in Oregon

“In states across the country we’ve seen the health care coverage situation go from bad to worse” -Kathleen Sebelius

Oregon's state flag
Oregon's state flag

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new analysis of last week’s U.S. Census numbers regarding the uninsured. The results are sobering and confirm that health insurance reform cannot wait another year. Nationwide, the number of uninsured increased from 39.8 million in 2001 to 46.3 million in 2008.

“These numbers only serve to further confirm a reality that far too many American families live with every day,” said Secretary Sebelius.

“Our health care system has reached a breaking point. The status quo is unsustainable, and continuing to delay reform is not an option.”

The analysis below underscores the urgency of health insurance reform for residents of Oregon.

* The status quo is not an option. The number of uninsured in Oregon has increased from 430,000 in 2001 to 621,000 in 2008. The percent of non-elderly adults without insurance increased from 15.2% to 21.5%. And this number only considers people who are uninsured for an entire year – it does not include people in Oregon who have more recently lost coverage through the recession, or who had shorter gaps in their coverage.

* Private coverage is eroding under the status quo. The percentage of people with employer-based coverage decreased from 73.1% of the population in 2001 to 69.7% in 2008.

* More workers are being left without protection from health care costs. Too many workers in Oregon do not have health coverage, at 393,000 in 2008. And the proportion of workers from Oregon without insurance has increased, from 14.6% in 2001 to 20.2% in 2008.

* The problem of the uninsured is a problem that crosses income brackets. The new Census numbers also drive home the fact that everyone in Oregon is vulnerable to losing health insurance. An additional 57,000 people from high-income households are now uninsured.

“In states across the country we’ve seen the health care coverage situation go from bad to worse,” Secretary Sebelius added. “And it’s clear that losing insurance isn’t a problem that plagues only the poor or the unemployed – it could happen to anyone.”

For additional information on health insurance reform, visit and click on your state.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.