Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of the American Public Health Association, issued the following statement regarding health care reform:

“According to new Census Bureau data released today, there are now more than 46 million Americans who do not have health coverage. And alarmingly, things are only getting worse.

“With the economic downturn, more Americans are losing their employer-sponsored health insurance. The fact that this year’s numbers are not even higher can likely be attributed to the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and other state and federal government programs providing health coverage.

“Furthermore, we know that recent data indicate that 14,000 more people lose their health coverage each day. That means that the 46 million individuals who were uninsured in 2008 will likely be joined by millions more before this year is over.

“The time has come for our nation to say enough.

“The number of uninsured Americans confirms that we have neither health nor economic security with our current health care system. Failure to act now will result in more premature death, disease and disability; more individual and family bankruptcies; and higher economic costs to our nation.

“Each hour we wait, two more people die prematurely because they lack health coverage. Each day we stall, out-of-control medical bills force more than 2,500 people into bankruptcy. And each month we find excuses and fail to do what we know is right, our strained health care safety net teeters closer to the brink of collapse.

“Disturbingly, the uninsured numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau represent the tip of the problem. There are another 25 million underinsured people who also receive inadequate access to care and are at risk of many of the same outcomes as those with no coverage at all.

“This is unacceptable for a rich nation; it is unacceptable for a humane nation; it is unacceptable for a just nation.

“All eyes are on Congress. Once and for all, let's roll up our sleeves, leave our ideologies at the door and craft a bill based on sound policy. We must pass comprehensive health reform legislation that ensures competition through a public option, provides access for all with universal coverage and redirects the emphasis of our health system with a renewed focus on prevention.”