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The Uninsured: What Do the New Numbers Mean for Health Reform?

Friday, September 18, 2009

As Congress hashes out proposals to expand coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, the latest count of the number of uninsured is a significant factor (you can read the announcement by the Census Bureau of new uninsured numbers by going to Though some believe economic recovery is underway, Americans are still losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands each month. With the loss of jobs, so goes health insurance. How does this reality affect health reform and the notion of building on the current system? Has the complexion of who is uninsured changed? What has been the role of public programs in the recession?

How many uninsured are there -- and how important is the number? How does the change in the uninsured affect the urgency of addressing the problem? Will it affect cost estimates for reform proposals? What are states doing in the meantime and how might they fare with national health reform? What is the role of states in the health reform proposals?

To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored a September 18 briefing. Panelists were Len Nichols of the New America Foundation, Stuart Butler of The Heritage Foundation and John Colmers of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Diane Rowland of the Kaiser Family Foundation and Ed Howard of the Alliance co-moderated.


Ed Howard, Alliance for Health Reform, Moderator
Diane Rowland, Kaiser Family Foundation, Moderator
Len Nichols, New America Foundation, Speaker
Stuart Butler, Heritage Foundation, Speaker
John Colmers, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Speaker

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 9/18/2009
Event Summary: The Uninsured: What Do the New Numbers Mean for Health Reform? (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 9/18/2009
Full Webcast/Podcast: The Uninsured: What Do the New Numbers Mean for Health Reform?

The full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Diane Rowland Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 9/18/2009
John Colmers Presentation (PowerPoint), 9/18/2009

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 9/18/2009
Source List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 9/18/2009
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 9/18/2009
The Uninsured: What Do the New Numbers Mean for Health Reform? (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 9/18/2009

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

Feature: Maryland: Increasing Adult Eligibility While Cutting the Budget, The Commonwealth Fund, 8/10/2009
Governors Fear Medicaid Costs in Health Plan, New York Times, 7/20/2009
The Real Story On The Uninsured, Heritage Foundation, 8/31/2009
The Uninsured, New York Times, 8/22/2009
How Will the Uninsured Be Affected by Health Reform? Uninsured Non-Elderly, Urban Institute, 8/27/2009
Trying to Minimize a Crisis: The Myth That the Uninsured Estimate is Overstated (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Washington University in St. Louis, 9/20/2009
The Economic Impact of Uninsured Children of America (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Baker Institute, 6/14/2009
Uninsured Adults Presenting to US Emergency Departments, JAMA, 10/22/2008
Five Basic Facts on the Uninsured (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 9/16/2008
The Uninsured and the Difference Health Insurance Makes (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 9/16/2008
State Fiscal Conditions and Medicaid (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 8/6/2009
Rising Health Pressures in an Economic Recession: A 360-Degree Look at Four Communities (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 8/6/2009
Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008 (Adobe Acrobat PDF),U.S. Census Bureau, 9/10/2009
Comparing Federal Government Surveys that Count Uninsured People in America (Adobe Acrobat PDF),SHADAC, 9/20/2009
Evolving Beyond Traditional Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance (Adobe Acrobat PDF),The Brookings Institution, 5/1/2007
A Federalist Approach To Health Reform: The Worst Way, Except For All The Others, Health Affairs, 6/11/2008
Ensuring Access to Affordable Health Insurance (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Heritage Foundation, 12/2/2009
Insurance Insecurity: Families Are Losing Employer-Sponsored Insurance Coverage, Office of Health Reform, 9/10/2009
America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Institute of Medicine, 2/2/2009


Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, reviews the major findings of the Census Bureau's new report on the uninsured. From the Sept. 18 briefing cosponsored by the foundation.

John Colmers, Maryland's secretary of health and mental hygiene, discussed his state's successes and challenges in covering the uninsured. He spoke at the Sept. 18 briefing cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Stuart Butler, vice president for domestic and economic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, offered some ideas for overhauling Medicare and employer-sponsored coverage at the Sept. 18 briefing cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Len Nichols, director of the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, discussed the moral arguments for health care reform at the Sept. 18 briefing cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation.


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