Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cap and Trade Legislation Would Increase Uninsured by Millions

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Senate can increase the number of Americans with health insurance by tens of millions -- at zero cost to taxpayers -- by rejecting cap-and-trade legislation passed by the U.S. House, according to an analysis just released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

In June, the House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act, commonly referred to as the Waxman-Markey bill, which seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050.

The National Center for Public Policy Research contends Waxman-Markey would increase energy prices, slow the economy and result in higher unemployment. This, in turn, the group says, would increase the number of uninsured.

"For every one percentage point increase in unemployment, 1.1 million Americans lose their health insurance coverage," said David A. Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "With the Waxman-Markey legislation projected to cost an average of 1.15 million jobs annually between 2012 and 2030, this could translate into tens of millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage. The best health care reform is doing nothing at all - at least on cap-and-trade."

Loss of health insurance coverage is only one of the negative health consequences that would result from a Waxman-Markey-style bill, according to Ridenour.

"The stress and loss of self-esteem that accompanies job loss can lead to unhealthy lifestyles, including substance abuse and poor eating habits," said Ridenour. "The unemployed are more likely to be diagnosed for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and because discretionary income drops with the loss of a job, so too do routine screenings that might prevent late-stage diseases."

Ridenour cites a study by Kate Strully of the State University of New York at Albany showing that involuntarily unemployed factory workers are 83 percent more likely to develop a new health problem than those who keep their job.

Ridenour's analysis is available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA577.html.

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