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Most Congresspeople in Districts with Highest Uninsurance Rates Support Reform

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, February 2, 2010

Rep. Gene Green, a Democrat of Texas, said he didn't have much choice but to vote for the House's health reform bill, which is now hanging perilously in a stalled House and Senate conference.

It's in the numbers, he says. Some 43% of Green's constituency in the Houston area don't have health insurance, the highest of any congressional district in the nation. Green's 29th district is nestled in a state which has the highest uninsured rate in the country.

"It would be irresponsible of me not to vote for passage of a bill that will allow 230,000 of my constituents more affordable quality healthcare," Green says.

All nine Democrats whose districts represent areas in the 10 highest uninsured rates also voted for the measure. One Republican in the top 10 uninsured districts voted against the healthcare reform plan.

The districts were identified in an Urban Institute review of U.S. Census data last year.

Besides Green's district, the other top districts, the members of congress, and the percentage of uninsured, were:

  • California's 31st, Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, 42.4%.

  • Texas' 30th, Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, 38.4%.

  • California's 34th, Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, 38%.

  • Texas' 9th, Al Green, D-Houston, 37.3%.

  • Texas' 15th, Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, 36.6 %.

  • Texas' 18th, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, 36 %.

  • Florida's 17th, Kendrick B. Meek, D-Miami, 35.9%.

  • Texas' 32nd, Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, 35.7%.

  • Texas' 28th, Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, TX.35.5%

On their Web sites, some Democratic lawmakers, who voted for the bill, specifically noted the high uninsured rates or "challenges" related to uninsured issues in their districts, such as Becerra, Gene Green, Al Green, Cuellar, and Roybal-Allard. Hinojosa and Meek referred to statewide problems, but did not specifically mention uninsured rates in their districts. Jackson Lee and Bernice Johnson mentioned overall problems, but not their districts.

Sessions, the lone Republican in the top 10 of uninsured districts, did not mention his own district, and voted against the measure, according to his press statements about healthcare reform.

Sessions said he spoke out against the bill because "the American people have spoken: they do not want a government takeover of their healthcare." Sessions' office did not return phone calls seeking comment this week.

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