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This week we’re featuring “Health Reform by the Numbers,” an online campaign using key figures to raise awareness about why we just can’t wait for reform. Today's number: 3.

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  • 3 million -- that’s the decrease in the number of middle-income earners who obtained health insurance from their employers from 2000 to 2008. [Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation]
  • And 3 times -- is how much faster health care premiums are rising compared to wages. [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]

It’s no secret --  skyrocketing health care costs are crushing families and businesses, forcing small business owners to choose between health care and hiring and forcing families to make hard spending choices because of rising out-of-pocket health care costs. While our broken health care system is hurting everyone, it’s the middle class that’s being hit the hardest. Yesterday, the non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report showing that the middle class became uninsured at a faster pace than those with less or more income. 

Health insurance reform will change that by giving American families and small businesses more control over their own health care.  While in Ohio earlier this week, President Obama detailed just what health insurance reform means for America’s middle class:

For the first time, uninsured individuals, small businesses, they’d have the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves.  Understand if this reform becomes law, members of Congress, they’ll be getting their insurance from the same place that the uninsured get theirs, because if it’s good enough for the American people, it’s good enough for the people who send us to Washington.

So basically what would happen is, we’d set up a pool of people; millions of people across the country would all buy into these pools that give them more negotiating power.  If you work for a big company, you’ve got a better insurance deal because you’ve got more bargaining power as a whole.  We want you to have all the bargaining power that the federal employees have, that big companies have, so you’ll be able to buy in or a small business will be able to buy into this pool.  And that will lower rates, it’s estimated, by up to 14 to 20 percent over what you’re currently getting.  That’s money out of pocket.

And what my proposal says is if you still can’t afford the insurance in this new marketplace, then we’re going to offer you tax credits to do so.  And that will add up to the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.  That’s what we’re going to do…

Look, I want everybody to understand -- the wealthiest among us can already buy the best insurance there is.  The least well among us, the poorest among us, they get their health care through Medicaid.  So it’s the middle class, it’s working people that are getting squeezed, and that’s who we have to help, and we can afford to do it.

Today’s number, 3, is the latest in ‘Health Reform by the Numbers,’ our online campaign to raise awareness about why the time is now for health insurance reform.You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

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