Earlier today, several female Republican House members held a press conference today to attack President Obama’s push for health insurance reform. “The Democrat way is not reforming healthcare, it’s destroying it,” announced Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
Perhaps the most attention-grabbing moment occurred when Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that “there are no Americans who don’t have healthcare”:
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) disputes President Obama’s claim that 47 million Americans lack healthcare. “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare,” she says. “We do have about 7.5 million Americans who want to purchase health insurance who can not afford it,” she says, urging Congress to adopt a new plan for healthcare reform that wouldn’t “destroy what is good about healthcare in this country” and “give the government control of our lives.”
Unfortunately, Foxx is not the first conservative to push this argument. In July 2007, then-President Bush claimed that “people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” Despite what these conservatives say, the fact is that many Americans are forced to go without care:
The chances of working-age adults experiencing at least one access problem due to costs (delaying care, forgoing medical care, forgoing dental care, or forgoing prescription drugs) grew from 18.2% in 1997 to 21.3% by 2006. While the size of the problem and the growth rate may seem small, combined with growth in the population, they translate into substantial numbers of people. The number of working-age adults who experienced at least one access problem due to costs grew from a total of 29.8 million in 1997 to 39.3 million by 2006.
In November 2008, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that “nearly half of Americans report that someone in their household skipped necessary health care in the past year because of the cost.” As ThinkProgress has previously noted, uninsured Americans are less likely to seek health care and more likely to die because of a lack of insurance. In 2002, the Institute of Medicine estimated that there were 18,000 unnecessary adult deaths because of a lack of insurance while the Urban Institute estimated in 2006 that 22,000 died for the same reason.
Finally, studies have found that the uninsured “are 30 to 50 percent more likely to be hospitalized for an avoidable condition” and if they do seek care in an emergency room, “they are usually sicker than patients who have health insurance.”