Health Care Reform is THE anti-Poverty Program

A new study by the Census Bureau recalculates poverty based on a “supplemental poverty measure” that takes into account transfer payments by the government and various expenses that the traditional poverty rate misses.  The headline number is that with this supplemental measure, poverty is higher than the oficial rate but the more interesting data is on what are the main contributors to increasing and decreasing poverty.

And the number one cause of greater poverty is medical expenses– driving nearly an additional 4% of the population into poverty compared to the original calculation. See the chart:

For the non-elderly, medical expenses force more people into poverty than the EITC helps life out of poverty and accounts for more poverty than food stamps, unemployment insurance and TANF welfare payments life out of poverty. (Not the pathetic impact of TANF).

The energy spent by Obama and progressive on health care reform are validated by these numbers.  Increasing access to health care insurance, particularly for the working poor who have often lacked access to Medicaid, will end up being the largest anti-poverty measure enacted since the Great Society.