Due to the success of the health care coverage expansion passed in 1996, the rate of uninsurance in Massachusetts has dropped from 9.9% in 1997 to 5.9% in 2000. Only 3% of children are uninsured.
Unfortunately, nearly 400,000 people in Massachusetts remain uninsured, and three quarters of these individuals are working.
Uninsured people are more than three times as likely to go without a needed doctor’s visit, which can lead to missed diagnoses, untreated conditions, poor health and death.
Lower income adults and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately uninsured. Latinos are three times as likely to be uninsured as whites and twice as many African Americans are uninsured. The high rate of uninsurance is one cause of health disparities in these communities, which have higher rates of infant mortality, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and AIDS.
Tobacco use compounds the health care crisis. Over 10,000 people die from a tobacco-related illness every year in Massachusetts – that’s 28 people every day!
In Massachusetts, 30% of high school students currently smoke. 24,000 children become new daily smokers each year in the state, and if current trends continue, 105,000 children currently living in Massachusetts will eventually die from a smoking-related illness.
A 50-cent increase in the cigarette tax will prevent 28,000 Massachusetts kids from falling prey to the addiction, death and disease caused by smoking.
The Commonwealth currently spends $2.5 billion annually to cover increased medical care and lost worker productivity caused by tobacco-related illnesses.
Supporters of Health Now! Massachusetts
The Health Now! Massachusetts coalition of almost 60 organizations brings together consumer health care, tobacco control and public health advocates, health care providers, labor unions, insurers and grassroots supporters. Representative Rachel Kaprielian, Senators Mark Montigny, Linda Melconian and Richard Moore are lead sponsors, with over 50 other legislators signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
American Cancer Society for more information on the toll of tobacco use in Massachusetts:
Gwen Stewart at (617) 556-7414
Health Care For All for more information on the state of health care in Massachusetts:
Marcia Hams at (617) 350-7279 x2917