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Report: Health Care Jobs At Risk As Uninsured Rate Soars

The symbol of medicine, the caduceus.
WAMC File Photo
The symbol of medicine, the caduceus.

More than 5 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored health plans during the pandemic, and have not secured alternate health insurance. That’s according to a study by nonprofit consumer health care advocacy group Families USA.
Stan Dorn, who authored the study, is director of the nonprofit’s National Center for Coverage Innovation. He says low wage workers have seen an extraordinary increase in the number of uninsured, with New York among five states with the highest coverage losses.

"African-Americans in particular but other people of color as well suffered disproportionate losses. And families with children were hurt. About 1.3 million adults in families with children lost their health insurance and that has significant effects on children's wellbeing as well as adults’ wellbeing."

The report finds people without health insurance are less likely to visit their doctor. The $3.4 trillion dollar House-passed HEROES Act would offer federal aid, and help pay insurance premiums for unemployed workers so they can stay insured under the COBRA process.

Families USA Executive Director Frederick Isasi says across the nation, some 15 percent of adults are now uninsured.

"Congress must prioritize comprehensive health coverage in this COVID package they're currently negotiating, protect families, save healthcare jobs and support the economy."

Dorn says Congressional help is vital.

"It is not pretty. Looking forward you have to worry that there will be further huge losses in health insurance coverage, because the virus is not going away. Things are getting worse, not better, on the pubic health front. And the economy is likely to get worse."

The report notes the healthcare industry itself has lost more than a million jobs since the pandemic began. Dr. Dennis McKenna is president and CEO of one of the Capital Region's largest employers, Albany Medical Center.

"We are very fortunate that up to this point we've not furloghed anybody, and that's good for our own workforce. But obviously we watch very carefully what's happening to the economics in the region and what's happening with other employers. I try to stay very focused on the facts and the data, because I think ultimately it's less ambiguous. I'm optimisic where we are right now. I think that in New York State there's no question that the virus is in a far better state say, then it was back in April or May. There was a point where earlier in the year we had in New York state almost 18,800 people in the hospital with COVID. Today in New York state we have just shy of 600. In the Capital Region we've been as high as 205. Today that number is 40. And at Albany Medical Center at one point we had as many as 80 people in the hospital with COVID, and today we have 10."

McKenna believes mask wearing and social distancing is working.

"Now we still take the virus very seriously. We don't know what's gonna happen in the fall. But in my opinion right now, at least what's happening in this region and in the state is a indication that we're doing the right thing and we're figuring out how to go forward with the virus until a vaccine comes. I think we can smartly keep businesses open. I think we can smartly get kids back to school and I think we can smartly deliver health care if we continue to do the things that we're doing."

  • Review the Families USA report HERE
Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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