U.S. Rep. Adam Smith made the following statement today concerning Cover the Uninsured Week, May 1-8th, 2005:

“Today, 45 million Americans have no health insurance, including more than 8 million children. In Washington State alone, 944,000 people are uninsured. Being uninsured means going without needed medical care. It means minor illnesses become major ones because medical care is often delayed. It also means that one significant medical expense can wipe out a family’s life savings. As the price of health care continues to rise, fewer individuals and families can afford to pay for coverage. Fewer small businesses are able to provide coverage for their employees and those that do are struggling to hold on to the coverage they offer.

There are things we can do and I have taken a number of steps in Congress to try and address this issue. First of all, I have cosponsored The Small Business health Benefits Program (SEHBP) Act of 2005. This bill would offer small business employers are affordable choices among private health insurance plans by giving them access to a large purchasing pool and negotiated rates. These employers would also receive an annual tax credit to defray part of the employer contribution for low-income workers and a bonus tax credit for paying a higher percentage of the premium. Unlike Association Health Plans (AHPs), this bill does not allow insurance plans to override state law and also SEHBPs would be transferable across the country so that you’re still covered, even if you move to another state.

I have also supported funding for Community Health Centers, which serve more than 15 million uninsured Americans each year. These Centers provide badly needed health care services to individuals who would otherwise go without access to quality medical care.

Further, I have cosponsored The Bipartisan Commission on Medicaid that would create a commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the Medicaid program and make recommendations on how to improve service delivery and ensure that Medicaid recipients receive high quality health care.

These are just a few of the priorities I’ve pursued in my effort to expand access to health care for all Americans. I am committed to continuing my work on this vital issue.”