Doctors Converge on Sacramento To Lobby for Universal Health Coverage
Lack of Health Insurance Cited as Major Health Risk
February 2, 2000
(Sacramento, Calif.): More than 10,000 doctors of internal medicine are calling on California's political leadership to work toward establishing a system of universal health insurance for the state's 7.3 million citizens who lack coverage. In meetings today with key state legislators in Sacramento, representatives of the California State Chapters of the American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) called on the state's political leaders to make the issue of the uninsured a key priority in the upcoming legislative session.
The doctors also urged California's citizens to carefully scrutinize the position of presidential candidates stumping for votes in the state's upcoming presidential primary on March 7.
Citing a recent report by ACP-ASIM, "No Health Insurance: It's Enough to Make You Sick," Paul Speckart, MD, FACP, called the state's growing lack of health insurance a public health hazard deserving the same sense of urgency as cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, or seat belts.
"The uninsured tend to live sicker lives and die younger as evidenced by our recent report which reviewed more than 100 scientific studies," Speckart said. Dr. Speckart is a practicing internist in San Diego and a member of the ACP-ASIM Board of Regents.
Some of the report's major findings included:
- Uninsured Americans have been found to be up to four times as likely as insured patients to require both avoidable hospitalizations and emergency hospital care.
- Uninsured children, compared to the insured, are up to 40% less likely to receive medical attention for a serious injury.
- Uninsured women with breast cancer, compared to the insured, have a 49% higher adjusted risk of death.
- Uninsured Americans, compared to the insured, are up to 3.2 times more likely to die in the hospital.
- Uninsured Americans, compared to the insured, are up to 2.8 times more likely to experience an avoidable hospitalization for diabetes.
"We advocate a system of universal health care which provides all Californians with access to necessary and reasonable medical services, including preventative services," Speckart said. "The central ethic of this system should be the care of the patient, and its fundamental design must be one in which the state, health care workers, and patients are all united in the common goal of relieving suffering and preventing disease."
ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America and treat more Medicare patients than any other medical specialists.
Jack E. Pope, ACP-ASIM Washington Office, 202-261-4556
Page updated: 11-03-03