Back then I was an administrator for a senior retirement community. Working with seniors opened my eyes to the reality that our health care system is broken.
I have written about this reality in my column before so please forgive me for repeating myself, but back in 2005 my senior community lost six senior citizen residents because they could no longer afford the high cost of their health care and medications. Five of those seniors lost their “American Dream” when they were forced to move from the retirement they had worked to achieve their entire lives. One senior friend ended up taking her own life because she did not want to be a financial burden to her family.
Unfortunately for us, our broken health care system and the rapid rise in health insurance premiums has severely strained not only Utah’s seniors, but also Utah’s working families and employers. An analysis by the Commonwealth Fund Foundation on federal data found that if premiums for employer-sponsored insurance grow in each state at the projected national rate of increase, then the average premium for family coverage will rise from $12,298 (the 2008 average) to $23,842 by 2020—a 94 percent increase.
Here are some more facts as to how health care costs are hurting Utahns:
• 15 percent of Utahns are currently uninsured.
• 77 Percent of those uninsured Utahns have at least one full time worker in their home.
• Health care insurance premiums have doubled since 2000.
• An Estimated 19,480 Utahns will lose their health care insurance by 2010.
• Family premiums will continue to rise from $12,298 (the 2008 average) to $23,842 by 2020.
The fact is at this rate the rising cost of health care simply is not sustainable, but this fact doesn’t seem to matter to those in Congress who are saying “NO!” to any and all health care reform because they are more concerned with gaining power in 2012 than serving or respecting the majority of American voters who gave Congress a mandate for health care reform when they voted in the 2008 elections.
Now that I have said my peace let’s answer the Clipper’s question, “What does losing the Democratic seat in Massachusetts do to the health care reform bill?”
The reality is: It does nothing to health care reform except to give the GOP the power to filibuster, because the Democrats never really had 60 votes in the Senate due to medical issues with two senators.
However, what that election should say is that no candidate or party should take their constituency for granted, even here in Utah as Senator Bob Bennett is finding out.