THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
New data released today by the Census Bureau show that the number of Americans without health insurance dropped significantly last year -- the first such decline in 12 years. The 1.7 million decline in the uninsured -- including over 1 million children -- is making a real difference in these Americans' lives. It means that they are likely to receive needed medical care, less likely to be hospitalized for avoidable conditions like pneumonia or uncontrolled diabetes, and less likely to rely on an emergency room as their primary source of care. Clearly, access to affordable, high-quality insurance makes a difference.
I am extremely pleased with today's announcement. I believe it validates our health care and economic policies, which have helped the country begin to reverse the unacceptable numbers of uninsured in this country. I am particularly proud that the enactment of the Children's Health Insurance Program and our success in maintaining a strong economy - which led to increases in employer-based coverage - have laid the foundation for this turnaround.
Although I am pleased with today's development, there is much work to be done. The data from this report well document that the states that most aggressively conducted outreach campaigns to eligible populations have been the most successful at enrolling children. We need to encourage states that are not doing as well to accelerate their activities in reaching out to uninsured children. And we need to provide targeted programs to build on our success.
Today, I want to once again call on the Congress to pass my bipartisan health care coverage initiative, including the Vice President's proposal to expand coverage to parents, as well as our initiatives that would expand coverage to 55 to 65 year olds, workers between jobs, employees of small businesses, and legal immigrants. My balanced budget shows that we have the resources to do this while still paying down the debt by 2012. It's long past time that we take the next step towards expanding coverage and making the nation's uninsured one of our top priorities.