Following is a statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director, American Public Health Association:

“According to an annual report on the uninsured recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, more Americans are burdened by a broken health care system and beleaguered economy than ever before. The report reveals 50.7 million Americans do not have health insurance, which is a sharp increase from 46.3 million uninsured estimated in 2008.

“This is exactly why full implementation of health reform is so urgently needed. Having access to quality, affordable health care should be a basic right not a privilege for all Americans, yet the bleak data paint a different picture. Our health care system has been failing the American public for too long. Unfortunately, given the economic downturn and anemic job market, even more Americans could face the desperate plight of losing their insurance down the road.

“The record number of uninsured Americans underscores the need to fully implement every single lifesaving provision included in the new health reform law. The law will provide millions of Americans access to quality, affordable coverage they desperately need, decrease incidence and mortality rates of the nation’s leading chronic diseases, and control the nation’s soaring health spending.”

The report’s data reflect nationwide estimates from 2009, before health reform was enacted into law in March 2010.