Wednesday, February 2, 2006 (New York, NY) – On the heels of the State of the Union address, the Applied Research Center challenged the President’s strategy to address the nation’s deepening health crisis. The national policy institute argued that the White House must lead the charge for an accountable, public solution that ensures high quality care for all Americans and close the gap on racial, economic and gender disparities in healthcare.
"We all agree that the healthcare system is in crisis; the real question is how to create a plan that takes seriously the needs of all Americans, including the poor and people of color," said Rinku Sen, Communications Director at the Applied Research Center, an Oakland-based public policy insitute. "The State of the Union address has confirmed our worst fears. President Bush is committed to the failed path of tax cuts and private accounts rather than taking real leadership in the face of a national crisis. Only a public solution will work for all Americans, and his continued disregard is literally making people sick."
The Bush plan prioritized increasing the use of information technology, expanding private health savings accounts and curbing medical liability claims. During his annual speech to a joint session of Congress, President Bush emphasized the disproportionate burden faced by many small business owners throughout the nation struggling to make insurance available to their employees. Though his plan has cited this constituency as one of its primary beneficiaries, a growing number of business owners claim that his initiatives are insufficient.
“It’s simply not going to work,” said Diana Hess a small business owner and member of the Idaho Community Action Network who recently interviewed 100 small businesses in Preston, ID. “The other businesses in my community feel that tax credits just aren’t enough; the costs are too high. What we really need from the President is a public insurance program that all owners and their employees can access for quality care.”
Tonight the Applied Research Center also cited its landmark study “Closing the Gap: Solutions to Race Based Health Disparities,“ which documented programs across the country effectively reducing deadly disparities in the health system. The report found public initiatives central to reducing health disparities; one municipal children’s health inititiative reduced the number of uninsured children in a California county by 62% in just one year, demonstrating the power of public led initiatives. U.S. Census data shows that Black Americans are twice as likely to be uninsured as their white counterparts; Latinos are three times more likely.
"As the entire nation struggles, the President would like us to forget that health diparities continue to run along the color line, demanding a solution that looks toward the margins,“ Sen added. "President Bush should develop solutions that work for all Americans, not just the wealthy and white. Private solutions aggravate disparities. Public solutions have eliminated them.”
The Applied Research Center is a public policy institute advancing racial justice through research, advocacy and journalism.
Closing the Gap Full Report and Closing the Gap Executive Summary can be downloaded as PDFs by completing the form found here.