Letter to the Editor

Bill would add insurance coverage

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To the editor:

Forty-seven million Americans -- including more than 700,000 Missourians -- have no health insurance. While the problem of the uninsured is large in scale, progress toward reducing Missouri's uninsured is possible.

Last week the Missouri Senate approved Senate Bill 1283 to expand access to health insurance to as many as 200,000 of the state's uninsured. This was an important step for the Insure Missouri proposal. It was also timely. April 27-May 3 is national Cover the Uninsured Week.

It is clear the problem of the uninsured will not solve itself. In fact, the number of the state's uninsured continues to grow. A report calculating hospital's community benefits, to be released this week, found that between 2005 and 2006 hospitals' provision of uncompensated care increased by more than $157 million to $637 million. These numbers highlight the growing cost of the state's uninsured.

The Insure Missouri proposal and SB 1283 is now before the Missouri House of Representatives. The legislature will adjourn May 16. There is still time to address expanded access to health insurance. We hope members of the Missouri House will make coverage of the uninsured a priority and take up and pass Insure Missouri before their session ends.

We urge Missourians to make their voices heard on this important issue by visiting MyHealthcareMatters.org and contacting their state representative in support of Insure Missouri.

STEVEN C. BJELICH, President and CEO, Saint Francis Healthcare System

JAMES W. WENTE, President and CEO, Southeast Missouri Hospital

Cape Girardeau