A few weeks ago, when President-Elect Obama introduced his health care advising team, he addressed critics who say dealing with the economic crisis necessarily means postponing health care reform. The economic crisis and the health care crisis are not separate, he explained. They are closely related. Among other things, when people lose jobs, they frequently lose their health insurance.
Here in Massachusetts, where I've been spending the holidays, we now have (more) evidence of how true that is. It comes via an article in Sunday's Boston Globe, which explains:
The economic crisis has produced a tsunami of newly unemployed Massachusetts residents seeking financial help with health insurance coverage.
Over the past three months, so many people have signed up for the Medical Security Program, a lifeline that helps middle-and lower-income unemployed residents pay their health insurance premiums, that participation is 73 percent higher than a year ago.
As of the end of November, just over 13,000 laid-off workers and their dependents were enrolled, up from 7,710 a year ago, and officials say that number is quickly rising.
Massachusetts residents are actually among the lucky ones, since the state has a long tradition of generous support for the uninsured. Many states don't even have programs like the Medical Security Program, which helps make insurance available for as long as people are collecting unemployment benefits.
That's why national action on this issue is so important--something that Obama, and his new lieutenants, seem to grasp.